Mississippi agricultural producers can now apply for funding to offset losses experienced in 2017 from hurricanes and wildfires. Funds will be distributed by USDA’s Farm Service Agency through the new 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program or 2017 WHIP, appropriated by Congress in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

There are approximately $2.36 billion available to farmers and ranchers affected by natural disasters in 2017.

Funds from the WHIP program will cover hurricane recovery efforts for nine states, including Mississippi, for hurricane losses and related conditions, like excessive rain and flooding. Eligible farms must be located in counties that received a qualifying Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or Secretarial Disaster Designation.

“The WHIP program will provide a huge relief for farmers in many counties in Mississippi who suffered great production losses from rain and flooding last year,” Mississippi Farm Bureau President Mike McCormick said. “I encourage our farmers and ranchers to contact USDA to learn more about the program and to receive assistance.”

The designated funds will also cover losses on an individual basis for those affected by wildfires, as well as for citrus growers in Florida.

WHIP will cover the loss of crop, tree, bush or vine, as well as a loss in production. The program will pay cost-share assistance to replant and rehabilitate trees in the same area and for production loss.

A producer who derived 75 percent of their income in tax years 2013, 2014 and 2015 are subject to a $900,000 payment limitation, while all other producers are subject to a $125,000 payment limitation. USDA will determine the amount a producer receives on an individual basis instead of an average of losses in the area.

“Currently, there are technicalities in USDA rules that prevent watermelon growers who suffered losses from Tropical Storm Cindy from being eligible for the WHIP program,” Justin Ferguson, Federation National Affairs Coordinator, said. “Additionally, we’ve heard from sweet potato growers with concerns about loss they suffered in storage as a result of weather events related to Hurricane Harvey not being considered a production loss. We are currently working with our Mississippi Congressional Delegation to see what avenues they might pursue to allow watermelon and sweet potato farmers to participate in the WHIP program.”

The sign up period for the WHIP program closes on November 16. To learn more about the WHIP program, contact your local USDA service center or visit farmers.gov.