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RMFU Cheers Completion of Disaster Relief Coverage

In a statement today, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union President Kent Peppler praised the USDA’s announcement of disaster relief coverage for farmers.  “The riskiest thing about farming for a living,” Peppler said, “is that you put all your eggs in one basket.  One day of wrong weather can destroy the profits of a year’s work.  Last spring, unseasonable rain effectively destroyed the first hay crop in eastern Colorado, for instance.  A permanent disaster relief program was one of our highest priorities in the 2008 farm bill. We got it, but it’s taken until the end of 2009 for the USDA to set up the program.”

On December 24, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA has implemented the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments program (SURE) in accordance with the 2008 Farm Bill. On January 4, 2010, the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) will begin enrolling participants who suffered crop production losses during the 2008 crop year.

“SURE is an important component of the farm safety net,” Peppler said, “ensuring our family farmers and ranchers against natural disasters that can bankrupt them. Every year we see some part of the farming community devastated by natural disasters, whether it’s floods in Iowa or drought in the southwest, and each time farmers must wait while the government devises a new band-aid for an annual problem. Permanent disaster relief creates a program that can respond quickly and effectively to the distress of farmers.”

“Many crops can be covered by private crop insurance, but this often covers less than 70 percent of losses. Permanent disaster relief creates a supplement to protect the rest of the farmer’s investment,” Peppler said.

SURE farm protection is based on the amount of individual crop insurance and on total farm revenue across the nation. To be eligible for SURE, producers must have suffered at least a 10 percent production loss on a crop of economic significance. Producers must also demonstrate risk management by obtaining insurance. Eligibility also requires that the producer have a farming interest in a county declared a primary disaster county or contiguous county.

“Farmers and ranchers will sleep better in the coming year,” Peppler said, “knowing that their hard work is protected from disasters they can’t predict or control.”

For more information on the new SURE program, please visit www.fsa.usda.gov.

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