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The WHIP+ program provides disaster assistance to farmers in counties that have had secretarial or presidential disaster declarations. Many North Dakota counties became eligible for the program after an October blizzard. (Jenny Schlecht/Agweek)

Here's what you need to know about WHIP+

FARGO, N.D. — Farmers across the country are dealing with a wide range of natural disasters: flooding, blizzards, hurricanes, fires and more.

Many of those producers now are eligible for Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program-Plus, or WHIP+. But what does that really mean?

Laura Heinrich, a program director at the North Dakota State FSA Office, provided these answers to common questions about WHIP+:

What is WHIP+?

WHIP+ provides payments to eligible producers who suffered eligible crop losses resulting from floods, snowstorms, tornadoes, and wildfires that occurred in the 2018 and 2019 calendar years. Crops intended for grazing are not eligible.

Who is eligible for WHIP+?

To be considered eligible for WHIP+, producers must farm land in a county that has been declared a Primary Secretarial or Presidential disaster county, resulting from a qualifying disaster (flooding, snowstorms, tornadoes, and wildfires). To check if you're in an eligible county, click here:

Producers outside one of those counties may still be eligible for assistance if they can provide documentation that they experienced the minimum level of loss due to a qualifying disaster event. For instance, qualifying disaster events for North Dakota are flooding, snowstorm, tornado and wildfire. Documentation to show the loss was due to a qualifying disaster event may include, but is not limited to:

• A producer statement with disaster details and dates.

• Photographs of the disaster event affecting the crop.

• Logs of weather conditions.

• Newspaper articles.

Eligible producers include those with federal crop insurance, Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program insurance or uninsured crops. Eligibility will be determined for each producer based on the size of the loss and the level of insurance coverage elected by the producer. A WHIP+ factor, which ranges from 70-95%, will be determined for each crop based on the producer's coverage level. Producers who elected higher coverage levels will receive a higher WHIP factor.

What do producers have to do?

Producers who have suffered qualifying losses should contact their county FSA offices to file WHIP+ applications. At the time of sign-up, producers will be asked to provide verifiable and reliable production records. If the crop was insured under federal crop insurance, FSA will receive production and indemnity records directly from the Risk Management Agency. To assist in the application process, federally insured producers should also provide a copy of the crop's Notice of Loss for their insurance claim.

If a producer is unable to provide production records, WHIP+ payments will be determined based on the lower of either the actual loss certified by the producer and determined acceptable by FSA or the county expected yield and county disaster yield. The county disaster yield is the production that a producer would have been expected to make based on the eligible disaster conditions in the county.

Are there any limitations or requirements for producers next year?

Producers receiving assistance through WHIP+ will be required to purchase crop insurance or NAP, at least at the 60% level, for the next two available crop years after the crop year for which WHIP+ payments were made.

Are FSA offices ready to help producers sign up for WHIP+?

Signup for WHIP+ began in September. In North Dakota, FSA officials received training on the program in mid-November.