What you need to know about the Tree Assistance Program

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Hello Again!

This week we are going to touch base on two different items. First is the TAP program and the second is the requirement for foreign investors who hold agricultural land to report their holdings to their  FSA office.

Tree Assistance Program Sign-up (TAP) continues. Orchardists and nursery tree growers who experienced losses from natural disasters that occurred on or after Oct. 1, 2011, can sign up for the TAP.

TAP was authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 as a permanent disaster program.

TAP provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.

The Budget Control Act passed by Congress in 2011 requires USDA to implement reductions of 7.3 percent to the TAP in the new fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.

Eligible tree types include trees, bushes or vines that produce an annual crop for commercial purposes. Nursery trees include ornamental, fruit, nut and Christmas trees that are produced for commercial sale. Trees used for pulp or timber are ineligible.

To qualify for TAP, orchardists must suffer a qualifying tree, bush or vine loss in excess of 15 percent mortality from an eligible natural disaster. The eligible trees, bushes or vines must have been owned when the natural disaster occurred; however, eligible growers are not required to own the land on which the eligible trees, bushes and vines were planted.

Replacement time

If the TAP application is approved, the eligible trees, bushes and vines must be replaced 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.

If physical evidence of the lost trees, bushes, or vines no longer exists, the owner must provide documentation to determine the eligible plants existed and were lost on each stand because of the approved disaster condition.

Examples of documentation can include: receipts for the original purchase of the eligible trees, bushes, or vines where TAP is requested; documentation of labor and equipment used to plant or remove the eligible trees, bushes or vines that were lost; chemical, fertilizer, or other related receipts to substantiate the existence of the eligible trees, bushes, or vines; and the RMA appraisal worksheet, which may be used by COC to substantiate applicant’s certification of trees lost.

For more information, producers should review the TAP fact sheet  at  www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/  or contact your local FSA Office.

Foreign investors and agricultural land. Foreign investors, who buy, sell or hold a direct or indirect interest in U.S. agricultural land must report their holdings and transactions to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Failure to timely file an accurate report can result in a penalty with fines up to 25 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land.

Foreign persons who are buying or selling land must report the transaction within 90 days of the date of the transaction.

Who Must Report

Individuals who are not U.S. citizens or citizens of the Northern Mariana Islands or the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; individuals who are not lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence or who are not paroled into the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act; any organization created under laws of a foreign government or which has located its principle place of business outside the U.S.;  any U.S. organization in which a significant interest or substantial control is directly or indirectly held by foreign individuals, organizations or governments; and any foreign governments.

What to Report: Each tract of agricultural land in the U.S ., its territories, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands owned by persons required to report; and leaseholds of 10 years or more.

USDA designated the FSA to collect the AFIDA report forms. Individuals wanting to obtain an AFIDA report form (FSA-153) may do so from any FSA county office. The (FSA-153) is available in both English and Spanish translations. You can also go on-line and download the FSA-153 form.

Although interested parties may obtain a report form from any FSA county office, the completed form must be returned to the FSA county office where the land or where the programs are administered. Foreign investors should contact their local County FSA Office for more information.

That’s all for now,
FSA Andy!

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