USDA on Friday announced that October 30 is the deadline to apply for disaster aid for 2018 and 2019 under the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program - Plus (WHIP-Plus) program.
One of the problems with getting aid payments under WHIP-Plus was that USDA did not have an application deadline for the program when it was announced.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., issued a statement on the USDA announcement.
“I was glad to see the USDA announcing that producers who have been waiting to get assistance for their 2019 quality losses will be able to sign up for that assistance in coming weeks,” said Peterson. “I also hope that an end date for sign-up on WHIP-Plus losses means that producers waiting for the second half of their payment on 2019 losses should be receiving it soon. The 2019 crop season was one of the most difficult for many farmers, including those in my district, and I know producers will be glad to take this final step to put those memories behind them.”
Peterson also thanked local Farm Service Agency workers who have had to deal with ad-hoc trade aid, COVID-19 relief payments, WHIP/WHIP-Plus and get out the regular farm programs as well.
WHIP-Plus is kind an all-encompassing disaster aid program for "hurricanes, floods, snowstorms, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, drought, excessive moisture, and wildfires occurring in calendar years 2018 and 2019. Drought and excessive moisture were added as eligible losses for the program in March 2020," USDA stated.
FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce noted the widespread natural disaster producers faced in both 2018 and 2019. He cautioned producers to not wait any longer to apply for aid. "Fortunately, in addition to our already extensive suite of disaster assistance programs for crop and livestock producers, we were able to provide additional support through WHIP-Plus. If you have not yet submitted your application for assistance, please don't miss your chance.”
Some lawmakers had begun raising concerns recently over delays in payments. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., had sent Fordyce a letter last week questioning why Montana producers had not received payments for flood losses in his state last year. North Dakota lawmakers as well had questions about how USDA was calculating quality losses under WHIP-Plus.
USDA stated that FSA so far has received 133,000 applications for WHIP-Plus disaster assistance and paid out nearly $1.4 billion so far.
USDA will launch a new website tool next week on the farmers.gov webpage about WHIP-Plus. The tool will help producers provide information to USDA staff as well.
On the quality loss issue, FSA is still grappling with the details. USDA announced there will be a separate sign up period for producers who reported quality losses in 2018 and 2019. Those details will come later, FSA stated.
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