Jun 11, 2019
Don’t forget Tree Assistance Program to mitigate replanting costs

The Tree Assistance Program (TAP) was reauthorized under the 2018 Farm Bill. Plantings eligible for TAP include trees, bushes and vines from which an annual crop is produced for commercial purposes and fruit, nut, ornamental, and Christmas trees produced for commercial sale. Many growers have experienced losses over the past year due to wet weather, winter injury, insect damage, and disease. TAP could be used to help you reduce the expenses associated with replanting.

To qualify for TAP assistance, eligible fruit grower and nurserymen must have tree, bush, or vine mortality losses in excess of 15 percent for the stand (adjusted for normal mortality) from an eligible natural disaster. Mortality loss on a stand of eligible trees, bushes, or vines is based on each eligible disaster event, except for losses due to plant disease where the time period for when the stand could be infected is determined by USDA-Farm Service Agency (USDA-FSA). Losses must have been unpreventable using reasonable and available management practices and must be visible and obvious to the USDA-FSA inspector. If the loss is no longer visible, USDA-FSA may accept other evidence of the loss and determine if this evidence substantiates that an eligible loss occurred. USDA-FSA may require information from a qualified expert to determine the extent of loss in the case of plant disease or insect infestation.

If USDA-FSA rules that you are eligible for compensation under TAP, you must replace the trees, bushes, or vines within 12 months of the date the application is approved. For tree, bush, or vine replacement, TAP payments kick in when mortality exceeds 15 percent (adjusted for normal mortality) and are set at 65 percent of the actual cost of replanting or 50 percent of the actual cost of rehabilitation. If you meet the definition of a beginning farmer or rancher, or a veteran farmer or rancher at the time of filing your TAP application, payments for losses in excess of 15 percent mortality (adjusted for normal mortality are increased to 75 percent of the actual cost of replanting or 75 percent of the actual cost of rehabilitation.

An individual or entity is eligible for payment under TAP if the average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of the individual or entity is less than $900,000. Changes to the program under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 removed the per person and legal entity program year payment limitation ceiling of $125,000 and increased the acreage cap to 1,000 acres per program year.

If you believe you have suffered an eligible loss to your trees, bushes, or vines and would like to file a claim, you must submit an application and supporting documentation to USDA-FSA within 90 calendar days of each disaster event or the date when the loss became apparent to you. For more information on TAP, or to file a claim, contact your local USDA-FSA office.

Jayson K. Harper, Penn State University

Apple trees in decline. Photo: Kari Peter, Penn State University


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