House Ag Committee Passes Extension of WHIP+ Disaster Program
The House Agriculture Committee voted on July 27th to advance a WHIP+ Reauthorization Act (H.R. 267) to expand and extend WHIP+ for two years and authorize appropriations of $8.5 billion for 2020 and 2021. The Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus, (WHIP+) is a temporary program that provided assistance to producers for losses in 2018 and 2019. The funding is an authorization that is subject to appropriations, which could come later this year. The Senate Ag Committee has signaled its support for extending and expanding WHIP+ as well. The House bill also authorizes the WHIP+ Milk Loss Program and the On-Farm Storage Loss Program. It will maintain the causes of loss that were included for 2018 and 2019, including smoke taint in wine grapes due to wildfires; high winds; derechos; excessive heat; freeze and expands the drought trigger from D3 on the drought monitor to a Secretarial drought designation (which is D2 for eight consecutive weeks), or more severe, and contiguous counties.
The Administrative improvements in the bill include:
· Continued requirement that participants purchase crop insurance coverage of at least 60%, or NAP where insurance isn’t available, for two years after receiving assistance
· Directs USDA to streamline the application process and to reduce the workload of county offices
· Use of net indemnities – under the existing WHIP+ rules, the payment calculation accounts for the actual value received and any gross crop insurance indemnity. The changes would account for the producer-paid premium in the calculation.
· Unharvested acres are treated in the same manner as under NAP.
· Mechanism for payments to producers through sugar processors and dairy coops.