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Producers have until Monday to qualify for disaster programs

WILLMAR -- With the passage of the 2008 farm bill, crop and livestock producers can qualify for two new permanent disaster programs. Those programs include the Supplemental Revenue Assistance program and the Livestock Forage Program.

The 2008 farm bill authorizes payments to farmers and ranchers with crop production or quality losses under the revenue program, and grazing losses under the forage program.

While there is no sign-up or application period, producers who wish to have the protection afforded by these disaster programs for the 2009 crop year will need to have crop insurance coverage on all their insurable crops, or a Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program policy for any uninsurable crops. The deadline to purchase either crop insurance or noninsured disaster coverage for Minnesota's spring seeded crops is March 16.

Generally, the requirement to have either coverage for the 2009 crop year applies to all land and crops that a producer has an interest in, including land located in other counties. However, since the enactment of the farm bill, Congress has authorized the following exceptions to this policy.

To be eligible for Supplemental Revenue Assistance, producers are no longer required to obtain crop insurance or noninsured disaster coverage for crops intended for grazing or pasture use. However, to remain eligible for Livestock Forage Program, insurance or noninsured disaster coverage on grazing or pasture acres will be required.

Producers can also waive the crop insurance or noninsured disaster coverage requirement for a crop if the noninsured disaster fee exceeds 10 percent of the value of the coverage, or if the crop is not considered economically significant. An economically significant crop is defined as any crop that is expected to contribute 5 percent or more of the total expected value of all crops grown by the producer.

NAP application deadline is March 16

The Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program provides protection from weather-related losses for virtually all crops produced commercially that cannot be insured under the federal crop insurance program.

In addition to losses directly related to severe weather conditions, the program also provides coverage for losses resulting from insect infestations and plant diseases if their occurrence was the result of damaging weather conditions. Coverage for prevented planting is also provided if more than 35 percent of the crop is affected.

To be eligible for the coverage, producers must pay the required service fee by the application deadline. The deadline to apply on pasture and spring seed crops, including vegetables, is March 16.

The service fee for coverage is $250 per crop, per county, not to exceed $750 per county. In addition, the service fees cannot exceed $1,875 per producer for all counties where crops are produced.

Producers can qualify for payments if severe weather conditions result in a reduction of the producer's expected production by more than 50 percent. Lost production eligible for payment is paid at 55 percent of the value of the crop, as determined by USDA.

Minnesota corn producers approve check-off increase

Minnesota corn producers have voted to approve an increase in the corn check-off program from one-half cent to 1 cent per bushel. The new check-off rate will become effective on July 1.

Balloting was Jan. 8 and 9 at the Minnesota Ag Expo, during the Minnesota Corn Growers annual meeting in Morton. The vote was 215 to 203 in favor of the increase. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture administered the election and certified the ballots.

The Minnesota Corn Promotion Order provides for a mandatory corn check-off that is refundable by request. The approved check-off amount is collected by the first purchaser at the time of sale and sent to the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council.

February corn and soybean prices decline

According to the Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service, the average corn price received by Minnesota farmers during the month of February was $4.10 per bushel, down $0.23 from January's average price.

Soybean prices averaged $9.50 per bushel during February, down $0.45 from January.

Minnesota hog prices averaged $43.50 per hundredweight, an increase of $1.00 from January's average.

Beef cattle prices during February averaged $70.90 per hundredweight, down $1.20 from January.

Minnesota milk prices averaged $12.90 per hundredweight during February, the same as January's average price.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.