Famers dealing with weather losses have a rare opportunity thanks to the delay in passing the 2008 farm bill. In this year of abundant disaster, the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE) offers farmers a do-over and enables them to take advantage of a one-time waiver for uninsured farmers to receive SURE payments.
Nearly a third of the 1,400 farmers responding to a recent Farm Journal Media survey say their acreage was affected by weather. Of them, 17% did not have crop insurance for 2008. They can qualify for SURE by paying a $100/crop/county fee at their FSA office for Catastrophic coverage (CAT) or the Non-Insured Assistance Protection (NAP). The fee is capped at $300/county or $900/farm. Deadline is Sept. 16, 2008.
"They must have coverage on all their crops—whether insurable or through NAP," says Dan McGlynn, deputy director for Production, Emergency, and Compliance Division at USDA's Farm Service Agency. Crops already covered with buy-up levels of insurance will each count as a $100 credit in each county against the buy-in fees.
To be eligible for a SURE claim, farms must be in a county or a county adjacent to one that has been declared an agricultural disaster area. Farms not meeting this criteria can still qualify if 50% or more of a crop is lost across the farm, says Brad Lubben, University of Nebraska farm policy specialist.
"Most people will insure corn, soybeans, wheat, etc.," he says. "But think forages, think of pasture—those are crops as well, but insurance isn't available on them."
Art Barnaby, Kansas State University Extension economist, explains the claim payment system under the CAT or NAP provision like this: "It's 60% of the price selection, and 50% of the yield times 60%. So it's only about 17¢ on the dollar for losses unless farmers had higher levels of crop insurance."
For those with regular crop insurance, SURE originates from the regular emergency programs, so it has similar attributes, though the calculation for payment has changed, Lubben adds. The formula for determining your SURE payment is 115% of your crop insurance coverage. "So if you buy 70% coverage, you multiply it by 115% and you get about 80% coverage. However, SURE can't protect you above 90%. So if you buy insurance at 80%, 115% is 92%, but it is capped at 90%."
This special provision is a one-time opportunity for farmers because of the delays getting a completed farm bill through Congress. In 2009 and subsequent years, farmers must pay all required fees before the normal deadlines.