Sugar beet growers received good news from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Feb. 28, when he announced additional disaster assistance available to agricultural producers, including sugar beet growers, through the USDA Wildfires and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus ( WHIP+).
“Of course, it all started last year with the severe freezes in October (2019), we knew our crops were severely damaged,” said Kendall Busch, president of the Nebraska Sugarbeet Growers Association and farmer in Mitchell. “One thing in our favor is we also suffered with other (sugar) cooperatives.”
Senators John Hoeven of North Dakota, Deb Fischer, and Ben Sasse both of Nebraska, and others led the way in getting assistance for sugar beet growers.
“Nebraska’s sugarbeet growers are facing tough times because of severe weather over the past two years,” said Fischer. “I’m pleased that USDA worked quickly to make this disaster relief available to them. This funding will help families recover from losses and get back on their feet.”
Senator Fischer a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, supported a provision in the FY 20 spending legislation directed at the USDA to make this funding available to sugarbeet growers.
Also, producers have reported widespread crop quality loss from eligible disaster events that result in price deductions or penalties when marketing the damaged crops. The Appropriations bill expands WHIP+ to include assistance for crop quality loss. FSA is gathering data and input from producers and stakeholders regarding the extent and types of quality loss nationwide.
“It’s true that farmers and ranchers are no strangers to the impact natural disasters have on their operations, but disaster events the past two years have been atypically widespread, relentless, and unforgiving,” Perdue said.
USDA is also entering into agreements with six sugar beet processing cooperatives to distribute $285 million to grower members of those cooperatives who experienced loss.
“USDA knew the severity of getting this done before our growing season. We don’t have a figure from Western (Sugar) yet, but something we’ve been needing and looking forward to, and it’ll definitely help the growers out,” Busch said.
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will open signup on March 23, for producers to apply for eligible losses of drought (D3 or above) and excess moisture.