by George Hamilton, UNH Extension Field Specialist and Tom Smiarowski, UMass Extension Risk Management Specialist.
Orchardists, grape growers and small fruit growers who experience losses from natural disasters during calendar year 2016 may be eligible for assistance under Tree Assistance Program (TAP), which is administered by the USDA – Farm Service Agency (FSA). Producers must submit a TAP application either 90 calendar days after the disaster event or the date when the loss is apparent.
TAP was authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 as a permanent disaster program. TAP provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and small fruit growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters. This include all tree fruits, grapes, blueberries and raspberry. Eligible tree types include trees, bushes or vines that produce an annual crop for commercial purposes. Strawberries are ineligible for the TAP. Trees used for pulp or timber are ineligible.
To qualify for TAP, orchardists/growers must suffer a qualifying tree, bush or vine loss in excess of 15 percent mortality from an eligible natural disaster. The 15 percent mortality can be determined on block or planting bases. The eligible trees, bushes or vines must have been owned when the natural disaster occurred; however, eligible growers are not required to own the land on which the eligible trees, bushes and vines were planted. If the TAP application is approved, the eligible trees, bushes and vines must be replaced within 12 months from the date the application is approved. The cumulative total quantity of acres planted to trees, bushes or vines, for which a producer can receive TAP payments, cannot exceed 500 acres annually.
Interested growers should contact the FSA Office that serves their farming operation. Questions regarding eligible trees, vines and bushes should be directed to the FSA Offices. Check this web site to contact your county FSA Office.