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Applications being accepted for 2009 disaster program

WILLMAR -- Farmers who suffered crop production or crop quality losses during the 2009 crop year can now apply for assistance at their local Farm Service Agency office. The application deadline is July 29.

One of the five permanent disaster programs authorized by the 2008 farm bill 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 for a producer's farming operation.

If disaster-related conditions result in a producer's total farm revenue being 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 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 for the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program.

One requirement 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 March 8, 2010, Pope County was declared a primary natural disaster area because of drought conditions during the summer of 2009.

Because of the disaster designation, producers that had a 2009 farming interest in a crop produced in Pope County may qualify for assistance. But in addition, producers that had an interest in a crop produced in a contiguous county may also qualify. The contiguous counties would include Douglas, Grant, Kandiyohi, Stearns, Stevens and Swift.

Producers who did not have a 2009 farming interest in Pope 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 overall reduction in production.

To qualify for assistance, all 2009 crops of economic significance must have had either a federal crop insurance policy in effect, or coverage provided by the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

Foot-and-mouth disease control efforts continue in South Korea

Of all livestock diseases, undoubtedly the most feared by livestock producers and the livestock industry is foot-and-mouth disease. Because of its highly contagious nature, controlling an outbreak of this disease in today's mobile society would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

But in addition to the containment and control issues are the social and economic impacts that an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease can have on a country.

Last November, foot-and-mouth disease was confirmed in a swine herd in South Korea. In the few months since then, the disease has spread throughout much of that country.

A recent publication from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health outlined some rather interesting developments regarding South Korea's efforts to contain and control the outbreak. The publication also contained some rather sobering statistics on the economic and social impact the disease has had.

Initially, South Korea attempted to contain the outbreak by depopulating infected and exposed animals. In those efforts, more than 3 million animals, or about one-third of their livestock population, have been destroyed.

In December, South Korea made the decision to begin vaccinating cattle. Later, they decided to vaccinate all livestock.

South Korea has received 20 million doses of vaccine, which has allowed all remaining livestock to receive two doses, and has helped contain the outbreak. However, South Korea will likely continue to vaccinate animals for several years to prevent additional outbreaks.

South Korea has already spent approximately $2.7 billion on eradication efforts. In addition, all animal markets in the country remain closed, and meat prices have increased substantially because of the shortage of animals being processed for food.

What's happening in South Korea is a reminder of how devastating foreign animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, can be. Therefore, all livestock producers should always practice and adhere to strict biosecurity measures, and immediately report any unusual livestock symptoms or behaviors to a veterinarian.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandi-ohi County.