The recently approved American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) allows producers to become eligible for 2008 disaster assistance authorized by the 2008 farm bill even if they did not previously obtain otherwise statutorily required crop insurance from the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) or Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage for 2008 by now paying a buy-in fee through May 18, 2009.

"President Obama is providing an additional opportunity to producers who suffered losses as a result of natural disaster because he understands they are going through tough times and he acknowledges their importance in helping stimulate the economy and create jobs," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Paying such a buy-in fee does not provide the producer with crop insurance or NAP for the 2008 crop year — it merely permits the producer to become eligible for the 2008-crop disaster assistance programs.

Producers who have not already taken the necessary steps to become eligible for the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP), and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) may now become eligible for such programs by completing the following steps by May 18, 2009:

Paying a $100 buy-in fee per crop. The maximum fee for insurable or non-insurable crops is $300 per county, per producer, not to exceed $900 for multi-county producers.

In the case of each insurable crop (those for which insurance is available from FCIC), excluding grazing land, agreeing to obtain a policy or plan of insurance for the next insurance year for which crop insurance is available; coverage level should equal 70 percent or more of the yield at 100 percent of the price.

In the case of each non-insurable crop, agreeing to file the required paperwork and pay the applicable administrative NAP coverage fee by the applicable state application closing date for the next available year.

Producers who choose to buy in under this provision will be considered, for insured crops for the 2008 farm bill disaster assistance programs only, to have obtained a policy or plan of insurance for the 2008 crop year at a level of coverage not to exceed 70 percent of the yield at 100 percent of the price.

For non-insurable crops for the 2008 farm bill disaster programs only, producers will be considered to have a level of coverage equal to 70 percent of the yield. These levels of coverage will be used to calculate the 2008 SURE guarantee. Producers who buy in will not be eligible for actual crop insurance or NAP benefits for the 2008 crop.

Producers who meet the definition of "Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource," or "Beginning Farmer or Rancher," are not required to pay the buy-in fee.