The Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill) authorized the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) to provide financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.
The 2014 Farm Bill makes TAP a permanent disaster program and provides retroactive authority to cover eligible losses back to Oct. 1, 2011.
TAP is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Eligible Tree Types
Eligible trees, bushes and vines are those from which an annual crop is produced for commercial purposes. Nursery trees include ornamental, fruit, nut and Christmas trees produced for commercial sale. Trees used for pulp or timber are ineligible.
To be considered an eligible loss:
- Eligible trees, bushes or vines must have been lost or damaged as a result of natural disaster;
- The individual stand must have sustained a mortality loss or damage loss in excess of 15 percent after adjustment for normal mortality or damage to be determined based on:
- Each eligible disaster event, except for losses due to plant disease;
- For plant disease, the time period as determined by the FSA for which the stand is infected.
- The loss could not have been prevented through reasonable and available measures;
- The damage or loss must be visible and obvious to the FSA representative; if the damage is no longer visible, FSA may accept other loss evidence that the agency determines is reasonable;
- FSA may require information from a qualified expert to determine extent of loss in the case of plant disease or insect infestation.
To qualify for TAP, orchardists and nursery tree growers must:
- Have suffered qualifying tree, bush or vine losses in excess of 15 percent mortality (adjusted for normal mortality) from an eligible natural disaster for the individual stand;
- Have owned the eligible trees, bushes and vines when the natural disaster occurred, but eligible growers are not required to own the land on which eligible trees, bushes and vines are planted;
- Replace eligible trees, bushes and vines 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.
Payment Limitation and Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
For 2012 and subsequent program years, no person or legal entity, excluding a joint venture or general partnership, may receive, directly or indirectly, more than $125,000 total in payments under TAP.
For 2011, no person or legal entity, excluding a joint venture or general partnership, may receive, directly or indirectly, more than $125,000 total in the 2011 program year in payments under TAP, when at least $25,000 of such total 2011 program payments is from TAP, for losses from Oct, 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2011.
In applying the limitation on average adjusted gross income, an individual or entity is ineligible for payment under TAP if the average AGIof the individual or entity exceeds $900,000.
Direct attribution provisions apply to TAP for 2011 and subsequent years.Under direct attribution, any payment to a legal entity will be considered (for payment limitation purposes) to be a payment to persons or legal entities with an interest in the legal entity or in a sub-entity.
For tree, bush or vine replacement, replanting and/or rehabilitation, the payment calculation is the lesser of the following:
- 65 percent of the actual cost of replanting, in excess of 15 percent mortality (adjusted for normal mortality), and/or 50 percent of the actual cost of rehabilitation, in excess of 15 percent damage or mortality (adjusted for normal tree damage and mortality), or
- The maximum eligible amount established for the practice by FSA.
Orchardists and nursery tree growers may apply to receive TAP benefits with the FSA office that maintains the farm records for their agricultural operation beginning April 15, 2014, for losses suffered on or after Oct. 1, 2011, through the end of the 2014 calendar year.
The following table provides the final dates to submit a TAP application and supporting documentation:
|Date of Loss
||Final Date to Submit an Application and Supporting Documentation
|On or after Oct. 1, 2011, through the end of the 2014 calendar year
||Later of Jan. 31, 2015, or:
90 calendar days after the disaster event, or The date the loss is apparent.
|Calendar year 2015 and subsequent years
||Later of 90 calendar days of:
The disaster event, or The date when the loss is apparent.
Contact your local FSA office for more information