John Smythe, executive director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency in California reminded nursery producers and citrus and avocado growers that in order to be eligible for certain 2009 disaster programs, producers must pay a “buy-in” fee for those crops that currently do not have a crop insurance policy and the sales closing date was prior to Aug. 14, 2008. The deadline to pay the “buy-in” fee at your local FSA office is Jan. 12, 2009.

“According to the 2008 farm bill, nursery, citrus and avocado producers who did not meet the crop insurance coverage criteria can “buy-in” or be “waived in” to be eligible for the 2009 Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program," said Smythe. The “buy-in” option in the farm bill accomplishes the Risk Management Protection Requirement (RMPR) for SURE Program eligibility as well as Tree Assistance Program (TAP) eligibility for these crops. Note that disaster program eligibility obtained via the RMPR “buy-in” option does not confer any additional crop insurance coverage benefit.

To be considered to have obtained at least the minimum level of insurance under the SURE Program, a producer must obtain a plan of insurance with not less than 50 percent yield coverage at 55 percent of the insurable price for each crop planted, or intended to be planted for harvest on a whole farm. To be considered to have met RMPR, producers must pay a buy-in fee in an amount equal to the applicable Catastrophic Risk Protection (CAT) fee for those crops that currently do not have a crop insurance policy on or before Jan. 12, 2009.

The buy-in fee for CAT is $100 per crop, but not more than either of the following:

• $300 per producer per administrative county.

• $900 total per producer for all counties.

For more information please visit your local USDA Service Center or FSA County Office. More information on disaster assistance programs is also available online at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/.