The USDA’s Farm Service Agency is reminding growers that two significant deadlines are looming for crop protection assistance. The first, Sept. 16, is the deadline for producers to sign up for the new permanent disaster program, which the National Corn Growers Association sees as an improvement over previous programs.

“The new disaster assistance program is better because it is more comprehensive than past programs, which took an ad-hoc approach,” said NCGA President Ron Litterer, a grower from Iowa. “This approach is not only more equitable and reliable, but it helps to eliminate duplicate payments for the same losses.”

The 2008 farm bill requires producers who wish to participate in the new disaster programs to have crop insurance or non-insured crop disaster assistance coverage for the land for which assistance is being requested, and for all farms in all counties in which they have an interest. Because this law was enacted after the application periods had closed for those programs, a waiver was authorized that allows producers to pay a fee, called a “buy-in” fee, to be eligible for this new disaster assistance.

Payment of the applicable fees will allow growers to be eligible for benefits for losses under Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, among others.

Litterer also noted that Sept. 30 is the deadline for growers to sign up for the 2008 direct and counter-cyclical payment program, which helps deliver certainty for the crop year and the option of a timely advance payment.

“It’s important for growers to be aware of these deadlines so they can make informed decisions about an important part of farm finances,” Litterer added. “Given how many applications must be reviewed, we urge farmers to learn what they are eligible for and apply as soon as possible.”

For more information, growers are urged to call or visit their local USDA Service Center.