Up to $2.36 billion of disaster payments will be available to farmers and ranchers who need aid following last year’s hurricanes and wildfires.
Funds are made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) after the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 was passed. The funding package called the 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP) offers up to $2.36 billion of disaster payments, and implementation will begin no later than July 16.
In 2017, an estimated total of more than $300 billion in economic losses were incurred from 16 different weather related disasters that totaled a billion dollars in damage. Disaster payments will be available through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) for those producers who had losses from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and wildfires.
“America’s farmers feed our nation and much of the world, and throughout history they have known good years and bad years. But when significant disasters strike, we are ready to step in and provide the assistance they need,” says Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “USDA is working as quickly as possible to develop procedures and a system by which affected producers can access disaster assistance. For producers new to FSA programs, we encourage you to visit your local USDA service center now to establish farm records.”
2017 WHIP Disaster Payments
The new 2017 WHIP will provide significant disaster assistance and be guided by the following principles:
- Eligibility will be limited to producers in counties that experienced hurricanes or wildfires designated as presidentially-declared disasters in 2017;
- Compensation determined by a producer’s individual losses rather than an average of losses for a particular area (where data is available);
- Producers who purchased higher levels of risk protection, such as crop insurance and noninsured crop disaster assistance program, will receive higher payments;
- Advance payments up to 50 percent; and
- A requirement that payment recipients obtain future risk protection.
Other USDA Disaster Assistance
WHIP disaster payments are being issued in addition to payments through traditional USDA programs, some of which obtained increased funding or had amendments made by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to make the programs more responsive, including:
- Emergency Conservation Program
- Emergency Watershed Protection Program
- Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program, Tree Assistance Program
- Livestock Indemnity Program