Farmers have until March 17 to enroll in the federal Noninsured Crop Assistance Program.

The program, under the USDA's Farm Service Agency, provides insurance for produce not covered by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation.

"Crop insurance is an important risk management tool for farmers, but it's not available for all crops. That's why NAP is so important," said Kelly E. Sundy, executive director of the FSA in Schuylkill County.

"Crops eligible for NAP coverage are those for which crop insurance is not available, including fruits and vegetables, just to name a few."

NAP is a federally funded program that provides coverage to producers for non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occurs due to natural disasters.

Coverage compensates losses greater than 50 percent and payment amount is based on 55 percent of the established market price.

"Producers must apply for coverage before a disaster strikes," said Sundy. "Like regular crop insurance, once an application period closes, the opportunity to obtain coverage is gone."

In order to be eligible for future disaster assistance programs, producers are required to timely purchase, at a minimum, Catastrophic coverage for all insurable crops and/or NAP coverage for all non-insurable crops on their entire farm.

NAP coverage requires a service fee of $250 per crop, per producer with a $750 cap per county. Out-of-pocket expenses will not exceed $1,875 for any producer, even if production occurs in more than three counties. Service fees may be waived for eligible limited resource producers.

NAP applications for coverage must be filed and service fees paid, by the applicable closing date. Application closing dates vary by crop. Schuylkill County producers can contact the FSA Office for specific crop application sales closing dates at: 570-622-1555 Ext. 2.

More information on NAP and additional disaster assistance programs is available online at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov.