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You may not be covered by disaster payments yet

The new farm law's permanent disaster program requires farmers to have crop insurance to be eligible. Most farmers in Corn Belt states do buy insurance for their crops. But that doesn't mean you're automatically in the new program, called SURE (for Supplement Revenue Assistance Payments). SURE covers the whole farm, so all crops have to be covered.

Normally, by March 15 in the Midwest, farmers who want to be covered by SURE must at least buy CAT (catastrophic) coverage on insurable crops. And for pasture, hay and other crops not covered by insurance in most areas, you've got to sign up for the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, or NAP.

With the farm bill becoming law on June 18, that obviously doesn't work this year, even though 2008 crops are to be protected by SURE.

Thursday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) said the law gives USDA 90 days to have a special signup for farms that aren't completely covered by insurance.

In Iowa, FSA offices are starting this week to notify producers that they may need to sign up by the September 16 deadline, said Kevin McClure, production adjustment program manager in the state office.

For example, on a corn and soybean farm with those crops insured but with uninsured oats and alfalfa, "they've got to come in and sign up for buy-in coverage on oats and alfalfa," McClure said.

Signing up those uninsured acres does not put the oats and alfalfa into the NAP program this year, it just makes the farm, with all of its crops, eligible for SURE, he said. The NAP program normally costs $250 per crop per county. However, this year producers will pay a $100 administrative fee per crop to enroll noninsured crops into the SURE program.

McClure said you won't necessarily have to pay $100 for each uninsured crop that you sign up, because there's a limit on the total fees you must pay if you sign up multiple crops. He suggests contacting your local FSA office for details.

The new farm law's permanent disaster program requires farmers to have crop insurance to be eligible. Most farmers in Corn Belt states do buy insurance for their crops. But that doesn't mean you're automatically in the new program, called SURE (for Supplement Revenue Assistance Payments). SURE covers the whole farm, so all crops have to be covered.

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