Good Records Are Key To Getting Compensation For Crop Losses

By:
Chris Eversole

Source(s):
Rodney Clouser (352) 392-1781
Earnest Jett (352) 379-4521

GAINESVILLE Florida farmers should keep good records this summer in case they need them to obtain federal assistance, University of Florida agricultural specialists said.

“Good records always are important because money is the lifeblood of any business,” said Rodney Clouser of the Cooperative Extension Service, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “But records are especially important now because of the potential for weather-related disasters.”

He said farmers can be compensated for crop losses in three ways. First is the ongoing Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). Every year, this program covers 65 percent of uninsured losses in eligible crops, including peanuts, tobacco, corn, wheat, citrus and some sugar cane. In addition, a pilot program covers watermelon crop losses in Jackson and Alachua counties.

The second form of potential compensation is the Crop Loss Disaster Assistance Program. Congress authorized this program for 1998 but would have to make a new authorization for it to be in effect this year.

The third form of potential compensation is the federal Crop Insurance Program. Although this article does not address records necessary to receive crop insurance payments, farmers can find out about the program by contacting their county Farm Service Agency office.

Farmers who grow crops that are eligible for federal assistance under the first two programs should keep up with reports to the U.S. Farm Service Agency, said Earnest Jett, the agency’s state chief of production adjustment, compliance and risk management.

“This past year, records were essential to document losses from the multiple problems we had, including excess rain at times, drought at other times and wildfires,” he said. “Farmers who were eligible for aid last year and documented it are reaping the benefit of their record-keeping now as funds for those losses are being sent out.”

Farmers should use form FSA-578, “Report of Acreage,” to document how much they have planted of crops eligible for federal assistance. They must file for their spring plantings by June 30. After that, they must file one of the forms 15 days following any plantings.

Once the Farm Service Agency announces that assistance under either program is available, farmers who have kept their FSA-578 filings up-to-date should file FSA-574, “Request for Acreage/Disaster Credit,” and FCI-74, “Notice of Loss,” within 15 days of a loss. They also will need to file the following forms:

CCC-502, Person Determination, which establishes that they were the primary producer of their crop; AD-1026, Conservation Compliance, which verifies that they were not in violation of any conservation regulations; CCC-441, Income Certification, which demonstrates that they did not exceed the income limits for their crops. In order to receive assistance, the farmers cannot exceed $2 million in gross receipts for some crops and $2.5 million for others. FCI-19A, Actual Production History, which is used to determine multi-year losses.

Keeping good records is important, regardless of whether crops fail, Clouser said. He said that good records improve management because they: -help increase profits by correcting for weak management practices or enterprises that bring poor returns, show income and expenses for each section of the farm, record the farm’s or ranch’s financial position and net worth. assist in controlling inputs such as fertilizer and feed, make tenant landlord and partnership relationships smoother and more business like, provide basis for planning future operations, and provide lenders with information they need in evaluating loan applications.

“A good set of records indicates a well-managed business,” he said.

Publications on record-keeping published by the UF/IFAS Cooperative Extension Service are available from the extension service or the World Wide Web. Publications include:

Another Web site, http://IT.ifas.ufl.edu/FDM/, provides additional information about coping with the financial and emotional stress caused by wildfires and dry conditions affecting agriculture.

People interested in obtaining advice and printed publications should contact their county extension service office, said Carol Lehtola, UF/IFAS agricultural safety specialist and co-chairman of the Florida Disaster Management Task Force.

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