Disaster Assistance Programs
In the past decade, temporary ad hoc disaster assistance payments was the typical mechanism used to aid agricultural producers, including blueberry growers, that had been adversely affected by natural disasters. However, given the ad hoc nature of this approach, these temporary disaster assistance payments have been difficult to manage fiscally. In the 2008 Farm Bill, officially known as the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, the SURE program was created as part of more permanent disaster legislation for agricultural producers. The SURE program is administered through the Farm Service Agency (FSA).
SURE is a new type of disaster assistance program. Most of the past disaster programs made payments based on individual crop losses and were often tied to base acres for either direct payments or countercyclical payments. SURE is a whole-farm disaster assistance program that is tied to crop insurance coverage and farm planted acreage. In a nutshell, if actual crop revenue from all crops (and all disaster and insurance payments) is less than the SURE guarantee, a SURE payment makes up 60 percent of the difference. SURE is tied to crop insurance because you need to have crop insurance coverage (i.e. NAP or AGR-Lite for blueberry growers) to be eligible for the program.