Disaster Recovery Assistance
The 2018 growing season was one of extreme difficulty for Georgia producers. Last October one of the most productive crop years on record was battered and destroyed by Hurricane Michael. According to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, Hurricane Michael caused more than $2.5 billion in losses to Georgia’s agricultural sector.
Responding to this devastation, Congress passed, and President Trump signed, the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019. The law provides assistance for production losses from Hurricane Michael through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+).
The disaster relief package also includes new Milk Loss and On-Farm Storage Loss programs to help producers who had to dump or remove milk without compensation or for losses of harvested commodities, including hay that was stored in on-farm structures.
Peach and blueberry producers will also receive assistance from 2017 freezes that affected 2017 and 2018 production through the original regulations of the 2017 WHIP program.
Signup for WHIP+ began on September 11 and will continue into 2020. WHIP+ builds off the 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) and is available to producers who have suffered eligible losses of certain crops, trees, bushes, or vines.
To be considered eligible for WHIP+, producers must farm land in a Secretarially or Presidentially-declared disaster county. Producers outside one of those counties may be still be eligible for assistance if they can prove that they experienced the minimum level of loss due to a qualifying, eligible disaster event.
Eligibility will be determined for each producer based on the size of the loss and the level of noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) or conventional crop insurance coverage obtained by the producer. A “WHIP+ factor” will be determined for each crop based on the producer’s coverage level. Producers who elected higher coverage levels will receive a higher WHIP+ factor. Producers who suffered crop losses due to Hurricane Michael will be compensated at 100 percent of their calculated WHIP+ payment, once the application is approved.
WHIP+ benefits will be subject to a per person or legal entity payment limitation of $125,000 or $250,000 if at least 75 percent of the person’s or legal entity’s average income is derived from farming, ranching, or forestry-related activities, provided the participant submits the required certification and documentation.
Both insured and uninsured producers are eligible to apply for WHIP+. Producers receiving assistance through WHIP+ will be required to purchase crop insurance or NAP coverage, at the minimum 60 percent level for the next two consecutive crop years.
USDA is also working with Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner to further assist growers through state block grants for producer losses not covered by WHIP+ or other USDA disaster programs.
For county rates, a WHIP+ application or related program information, visit farmers.gov/whip-plus.
For more information, your local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Center farmers.gov/service-locator.