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FSA applications open for 2008 crop losses

WILLMAR -- Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that farmers who suffered crop production or crop quality losses during the 2008 crop year can now apply for assistance at their local Farm Service Agency office.

The 2008 Farm Bill included language that established an Agricultural Disaster Relief Trust Fund that would finance five separate programs to comprehensively address agricultural disasters. Prior to establishing a permanent funding mechanism, Congress's primary means of authorizing crop disaster assistance was of ad hoc disaster legislation.

One of the five permanent programs is the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program. It provides assistance to producers who suffered qualifying crop production or quality losses due to adverse weather or other environmental conditions, beginning with the 2008 crop year.

As the name implies, the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program assists producers in managing revenue losses by reducing the threats of lower-than-expected yields and prices by providing a revenue guarantee.

If because of disaster-related conditions, a producer's total farm revenue is less than the farm's total revenue guarantee, the producer is paid 60 percent of the difference.

For program purposes, a farm is defined as all crop acreage that is planted and intended to be planted for harvest for commercial sale or on-farm livestock feeding purposes. The farm definition includes all crops, produced from all land, and in all counties.

There are several eligibility requirements that producers must meet to qualify.

One is that the producer must suffer at least a 10 percent production loss on at least one crop of economic significance. A significant crop is defined as a crop that contributes at least 5 percent of a farm's expected revenue.

Another requirement is that the producer must have an interest in a crop that was produced in either a county, or a county contiguous to a county, that received a natural disaster declaration for crop production losses.

On Nov. 26, 2008, Lac qui Parle County was declared a primary natural disaster area after a severe thunderstorm, high winds and large hail on July 31, 2008.

Because of the disaster designation, producers that had a 2008 farming interest in a crop produced in Lac qui Parle County may qualify for assistance. But in addition, producers that had an interest in a crop produced in a contiguous county may also qualify -- Big Stone, Chippewa, Swift and Yellow Medicine.

Producers who did not have a 2008 farming interest in Lac qui Parle County or any contiguous counties may also qualify for assistance. However, they would need to verify that their farming operation suffered at least a 50 percent reduction in production.

Dairy payments triggered for Nov.

Due to abnormally low milk prices during the month of November, dairy producers again qualify for payments under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Milk Income Loss Contract Program.

Initially authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill, and then reauthorized under the 2008 Farm Bill, the program provides monthly financial assistance to dairy producers whenever the Boston Class 1 milk price falls below the payment trigger price of $16.94 per hundredweight. In that case, producers qualify for a payment equal to 45 percent of the price difference.

The Boston Class 1 milk price for the month of November was $16.11 per hundredweight. Therefore, the November payment rate will be $0.3735 per hundredweight.

The Boston Class 1 milk price for December was $17.24 per hundredweight, with January at $18.28 per hundredweight. The price for both months exceeds the $16.94 trigger price.

Minn. hog numbers up 1 percent

According to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, Minnesota hog producers had an inventory of 7.4 million hogs and pigs on Dec. 1, down 1 percent from one year ago, but up 1 percent from Sept. 1.

Breeding hogs in Minnesota totaled 560,000 head, down 3 percent from last year. Market hogs and pigs totaled 6.84 million head, down 1 percent from one year ago.

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