Saturday, August 18, 2018

USDA: Puerto Rican farmers can benefit from over $2.36 billion in aid

By on May 2, 2018

SAN JUAN – U.S. Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue has announced new details on eligibility for a new disaster program, 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP).

In total, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will deploy up to $2.36 billion that Congress appropriated through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to “help producers with recovery of their agricultural operations” in at least nine jurisdictions with hurricane damage and states impacted by wildfire.

“While USDA has a suite of disaster programs as well as crop insurance available to help producers manage their risk, Congress felt it was important to provide extra assistance to our nation’s farms and ranches that were the hardest hit last year,” Perdue said in an agency release.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue (Screen capture of www.usda.gov)

All Puerto Rican crops are eligible for the program, since President Trump approved a major disaster declaration for the entire island after September’s hurricanes struck.

Eligibility will be determined on an individual basis, using the level of insurance coverage purchased for 2017 for the total crop acres on the area for which the WHIP application is made.

Eligible producers who certify to an average adjusted gross income (AGI) of at least 75 percent derived from farming or ranching, including other agriculture and forestry-based businesses during the tax years 2013, 2014 and 2015, will be eligible for a $900,000 payment limitation with verification. All other eligible producers requesting 2017 WHIP benefits will be subject to a $125,000 payment limitation.

Farmers interested in participating in the program must submit their application no later than July 16. Additional information on WHIP is available on FSA’s 2017 WHIP webpage. For assistance under any of the other disaster programs, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/disaster.

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