Tree Assistance Program

This program provides assistance to tree, bush and vine owners who have trees, bushes or vines lost by a natural disaster.

The statute authorizes payments only for eligible owners who actually replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines and who produce annual crops from trees for
commercial purposes.


Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Office - Consult the local phone directory for location of the nearest county FSA office.

If no listing, contact the appropriate State FSA office listed in the Farm Service Agency section of Appendix IV of the Catalog or on the WEB at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/edso/.


Program Accomplishments

None.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Eligible owners must execute all required documents, comply with all applicable noxious weed laws, and complete the TAP funded practice within 12 months of application approval.

Participants must allow representatives of FSA to visit the site for the purposes of certifying compliance with TAP requirements.



Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

To be eligible for TAP payments the owner must: (1) Own the stand on which the claim for benefits is based; (2) Have owned it at the time the natural disaster occurred; (3) Have continuously owned the stand until the TAP application is submitted; (4) Annual gross revenue not to exceed $2.5 million for the preceding tax year; (5) Federal, State, local governments and agencies as well as political subdivisions thereof are not eligible for benefits.

Beneficiary Eligibility

An individual owner who has trees, bushes or vines lost by a natural disaster.

Credentials/Documentation

To be considered an eligible loss: (1) Trees, bushes or vines must have been lost as a result of a natural disaster; (2) The individual stand must have sustained a loss in excess of 15 percent after adjustment for normal mortality; (3) The loss could not have been prevented through reasonable and available measures; (4) The trees, bushes or vines would not normally have been rehabilitated or replanted within the 12-month period following the loss; (5) The damage must be visible and obvious to the County Committee except that if the damage is no longer visible, the County Committee may accept other evidence of the loss as it determines is reasonable. County Committee may require information from an expert in the case of plant disease or insect infestation.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

None.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.

12372.

Application Procedures

A complete application for TAP benefits and related supporting documentation must be submitted to the county office prior to the deadline that FSA announces. A complete application includes all of the following: (1) A form provided by FSA; (2) A written estimate of the number of trees, bushes or vines lost or damaged which is prepared by the owner or someone who is a qualified expert, as determined by the County Committee; (3) The number of acres on which the loss was suffered; (4) Sufficient evidence of the loss to allow the County Committee to calculate whether an eligible loss occurred.

Award Procedures

The County Committee: (1) Must make recommendations and an eligibility determination based on a complete application on those requests that it wants to refer to a higher approval official; (2) Will verify actual qualifying losses and the number of acres involved by on-site visual inspection of the land and trees, bushes or vines; (3) May request additional information and may consider all relevant information in making its determination including its members' own knowledge about the applicant's normal operations.

Deadlines

To be announced.

Authorization

Section 3602 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, Public Law 108-83.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

About 30 days.

Appeals

None.

Renewals

None.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Subject to the availability of TAP funds, an approved owner shall be reimbursed in an amount not to exceed 75 percent of the eligible costs for the qualifying loss (that loss over and above the calculated 15 percent mortality). The payment shall be the lesser of the actual costs for the replanting or the amount calculated using rates established by the County Committee (not to exceed the maximum amount the Deputy Administrator establishes). (1) When lost stands are replanted, the types planted may be different than those originally planted if the new types have the same general end use, as the County Committee determines. Payments will be based on the lesser of rates established to plant the types actually lost or the cost to establish the alternative used. (2) If the species of plantings, seedlings or cuttings differs significantly from the species lost, as the County Committee determines, the costs may not be reimbursed. (3) Owners may elect not to replant the entire eligible stand. If so, the County Committee shall calculate payment based on the number of qualifying trees, bushes or vines actually replanted. (4) The cumulative total quantity of acres planted to trees, bushes or vines for which a person may receive assistance shall not exceed 500 acres. (5) The cumulative amount of TAP payments, which any person may receive, shall not exceed $75,000 per program year. (6) If the total of all eligible TAP claims received exceeds the available TAP funds, payments shall be reduced by a uniform national percentage after the imposition of applicable payment limitation provisions.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Payment is made by check or direct deposit after determining applicant eligibility.

Post Assistance Requirements

Reports

None.

Audits

Recipients under this program are subject to audit by the Office of the Regional Inspector General, USDA.

Records

An owner or any other individual or entity receiving assistance for TAP shall maintain and retain financial books and records which will permit verification of all transactions for at least 3 years, following the end of the calendar year in which assistance was provided.

Financial Information

Account Identification

12-4336-0-4-350.

Obigations

(Direct Payments) FY 07 $0; FY 08 est not available; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Not applicable.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Program is announced through news media and in letters to agricultural producers in the county. Regulations published in the Federal Register, 7 CFR Part 783.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Consult the local phone directory for location of the nearest county FSA office. If no listing, contact the appropriate State FSA office listed in the Farm Service Agency section of Appendix IV of the Catalog or on the WEB at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/edso/.

Headquarters Office

Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, Production, Emergencies, and Compliance Division, Stop 0517, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-0517. Telephone: (202) 720-7641.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

All producers meeting eligibility requirements may receive assistance. Applications are non-competitive.



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