Johnny Morgan | 7/20/2017 3:29:18 PM
(07/20/17) BATON ROUGE, La. — The spring and late-summer floods of 2016 were devastating for some farmers, but some relief is in sight.
LSU AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry is advising growers who suffered loses to log on to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry website, www.ldaf.state.la.us, and complete an application for federal grant funding. The application period will begin July 26 and run for approximately 36 days.
“This grant program is designed to provide financial assistance to producers with farming operations in the 51 parishes that have been declared disaster areas by FEMA,” he said.
The 13 parishes not included are Assumption, Cameron, Concordia, Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John, St. Mary, Tensas and Terrebonne.
“Since funds for this program come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and not from USDA, eligibility is set by HUD, which requires the parish to have been declared a disaster area by FEMA,” Guidry said. “Being declared a disaster area by the secretary of agriculture does not qualify the parish for this program.”
The location requirement refers to the farming operation and not where the producer lives, he said.
“What this means is producers who live in an ineligible parish but have a portion of their farming operation located in an eligible parish would be able to claim losses associated with just that portion of the operation located in the eligible parish,” he said.
In order to be eligible for the program, producers must meet four requirements:
— They must have been farming prior to March 1, 2016, and must be in business and farming in 2017.
— They must have had gross farm revenue of at least $25,000 in at least one of the three preceding years.
— They must show losses of at least $10,000.
— They must not currently be in bankruptcy.
This grant program is similar to the program LDAF administered in response to hurricanes Gustav and Ike, Guidry said. The difference is this is a 100 percent grant program, not a loan program.
“Producers must use the crop loss calculator developed by LDAF in determining the estimated losses suffered on their farming operation,” Guidry said. “Only losses determined by the calculator are eligible.”
Eligible crops include cattle, corn, cotton, crawfish, grain sorghum, hay, rice, soybeans, strawberries, sugarcane, sweet potatoes and wheat.
The losses calculated by the crop calculator include crop losses, increased planting costs, increased harvest cost, increased tillage and land preparation costs, animal deaths and lost grazing days, Guidry said.
“Eligible economic losses determined by the calculator will be reduced by the level of disaster assistance funds received by the producer from other agencies for these same losses. This prevents a duplication of benefits received by the producer,” he said.
The maximum assistance available to a producer is the lower of the net estimated losses determined by the crop loss calculator or $100,000.
“The total amount of funds available for the program is $9.5 million,” Guidry said. “If the total amount of eligible requests exceeds $9.5 million, awards will be made on a pro rata share basis.”
The documentation required for the application process include:
— Completed federal tax returns.
— Completed application.
— Completed Crop Loss Calculator.
— Completed FSA Verification Authorization Form.
—Completed RMA Verification Authorization Form.
— Copy of government-issued ID.
— 2017 receipts and invoices.
— Copies of current payroll registers, payroll forms or Federal form 941.
— Completed LMI form.