Sign-up resumes through May 5 for dairy disaster aid program

From Staff Reports

April 8, 2008 - Local dairy farmers who suffered production losses over the past three years may be eligible for special assistance from the federal government, but they have less than a month to sign up for the funding.

Eligible dairy producers who suffered production losses in 2005, 2006 or 2007 may apply to receive benefits under the Dairy Disaster Assistance Program III, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday.

Producers can sign up at the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) service center, located at 530 Hillcres Drive, until May 5, when the sign-up period will end.

The program will provide $16 million in benefits to dairy producers for dairy production losses that occurred between Jan. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2007, because of natural disasters.

To be eligible, a producer's operation must be in a county designated a major disaster or emergency area by the president or declared a natural disaster area by the secretary of agriculture between Jan. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2007.

Producers in contiguous counties are also eligible.

USDA designated Hopkins County as a primary natural disaster areas in August of 2006.

Producers in counties declared disaster areas by the president may be eligible, even though the agricultural loss was not covered by the declaration, if an FSA Administrator's Physical Loss Notice covered such losses.

FSA began enrolling producers in Dairy Disaster Assistance Program III in late 2007 and early 2008, then temporarily halted sign-up pending the completion of rulemaking which began with the issuance of a proposed rule for public comments on the program. Based on public comments, FSA made minor changes to the proposed DDAP-III rules. These changes are explained in the final DDAP-III regulations, which were published in the March 4 Federal Register.

The U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 (2007 Act), signed by President Bush in May 2007, authorizes this program. The 2007 Act charges USDA with implementing the Dairy Disaster Assistance Program III (DDAP-III).

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