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USA - Disaster relief in sight for growers hit by extreme drought

Recent passage of a Congressional act might bring some much-needed relief to Texas farmers who experienced crop losses due to drought in 2018 and 2019, according to Bart Fischer, Director of the Agricultural Food and Policy Center (AFPC) at Texas A&M University in College Station.

In December, Congress passed the FY2020 Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, making crop production losses due to “quality losses of crops, drought, and excessive soil moisture” in crop years 2018 and 2019 eligible for Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+).

For growers and ag industry stakeholders in Texas, the hope is meaningful assistance will become available to the 202 local counties affected. However, until the USDA releases further information, farmers must wait to sign up for assistance.

The AFPC recently released a briefing paper for the provisions in the FY2020 Further Consolidated Appropriations Act. The Center was created as a joint activity between Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and Texas A&M University. The Center conducts analyses of the impacts of government policy proposals and/or implementation procedures on farmers, agribusinesses, taxpayers and consumers.

“Previous rounds of assistance had focused on a variety of other disasters but didn’t cover drought,” Fischer said. “But the FY2020 appropriations bill finally addressed that aspect of crop loss, making drought losses eligible for WHIP+.”

Fischer noted the FY2020 Further Consolidated Appropriations Act further stipulates “losses due to drought shall only be eligible for WHIP+ if any area within the county in which the loss occurs was rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as having a D3 (Extreme Drought) or higher level of drought intensity during the applicable calendar years.”

The AFPC estimates producers in as many as 97 Texas counties in 2018, 45 in 2019, and 60 in both 2018 and 2019 could be eligible for assistance. Fischer cautions, until USDA announces it is time to sign up, the local county Farm Service Agency will not be able to provide any information.

Source — https://www.growingproduce.com

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