This field in Chula was hit with high winds and debris during Hurricane Michael in 2018.

This field in Chula was hit with high winds and debris during Hurricane Michael in 2018.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Eleven months after Hurricane Michael struck, Georgia farmers can finally sign up for disaster relief.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week that sign up for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+), more than $3 billion in aid for agricultural producers impacted by natural disasters from 2018 and 2019, will begin Sept. 11.

“In October, Hurricane Michael ripped through South and Middle Georgia, leaving billions of dollars in agricultural damages in its wake,” said Congressman Austin Scott in a press release. “As our state’s oldest and largest industry, it is vital our farmers have the resources they need to recover from this storm. That’s why Rep. Sanford Bishop and I fought for months for $3 billion in aid for agricultural producers in Georgia and across the country to help put the pieces back together again.”

WHIP+ will be available for eligible producers who have suffered losses of certain crops, trees, bushes or vines in counties with a Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or a Secretarial Disaster Designation.

Disaster losses must have been a result of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, snowstorms or wildfires that occurred in 2018 or 2019. Producers in counties that did not received a disaster declaration or designation may still apply for WHIP+ but must provide supporting documentation to establish that the crops were directly affected by a qualifying disaster loss.

Producers who have not participated in a USDA program should contact their local USDA service center to establish farm records. To establish a farm tract number, be sure to bring the following items:

• Proof of identity such as driver’s license or Social Security number/card.

• Copy of recorded deed, survey plat, rental, or lease agreement of the land (You do not have to own property to participate in USDA programs.).

• Articles of incorporation, estate, or trust documents for entities.

For WHIP+ it is also recommend that producers bring:

• Verifiable and reliable production records by crop, type, practice, intended use, and acres if not already on file.

For more information, contact the local USDA service center:

Berrien County:

Nashville Service Center, 516a County Farm Rd. Ste 2, Nashville. 229-686-5557

Colquitt County:

Moultrie Service Center, 350 Veterans Pkwy N Bldg 3. 229-985-6509.

Cook County:

Adel Field Service Center, 204 East Ninth St. 229-686-5557, 229-896-3206.

Nashville Service Center, 516a County Farm Rd. Ste 2, Nashville. 229-686-5557.

Irwin County:

Fitzgerald Service Center, 163 Tech Pointe Drive. 229-382-2775, 229-468-7491.

Tift County:

Tifton Service Center, 1468 Carpenter Rd. S. 229-382-2775.

Turner County:

Ashburn Service Center, 222 Rockhouse Rd. 229-382-2775, 229-567-3304.

Worth County:

Sylvester Service Center, 410 N. Livingston St. 229-776-6985.

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