If there is one thing farmers should avoid at the end of this bleak crop season, it’s jumping the gun.

Facing one of the biggest crop disasters in years, insured producers’ first priority should be to contact their insurance agent as to their options.

“For insurance purposes, this late in the season, it’s possible they may require you to harvest your crops, if only to see what is out there,” says James Novak, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System economist and Auburn University professor of agricultural economics.

“In the past, there have been situations in which a crop is a total loss and insurance adjustors have declared it as such,” he says. “But don’t do anything unless your insurance agent has checked it out.”

A new Federal program known as Supplemental Revenue Assistance (SURE) covers some crop losses not handled by insurance. It may be an option for enrolled producers.

SURE payments are available to producers on farms located in counties included in or next to areas with natural disaster declarations or where actual production is less than 50 percent of normal.

Qualified producers have to meet only one of the criteria in these provisions.

“Both conditions aren’t necessary. There has has been some confusion about that,” says Novak.

SURE is part of the new farm bill's permanent disaster assistance. Other programs are in place for tree, horticultural and livestock losses.

As always, farmers should check with their Farm Service Agency (FSA) representatives

concerning eligibility and any information regarding these programs.

Information concerning SURE is available at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/sure_fact_sheet_ok.pdf.

Enrolled producers should also check with the Farm Service Agency regarding assistance under the Non-insured Assistance Program (NAP). In the case of a crop loss, producers should check with their FSA office before doing anything with their crops.