The Agriculture Department plans to send $285 million to sugar beet processing cooperatives that lost money in 2018 and 2019 after some of the worst harvests because of snowstorms, rain and frost, Secretary Sonny Perdue announced today.
The money is available under USDA’s $4.5 billion disaster aid fund authorized by Congress last year, known as the Wildfires and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus. Signups begin March 23.
“It’s true that farmers and ranchers are no strangers to the impact natural disasters have on their operations, but disaster events the past two years have been atypically widespread, relentless and unforgiving,” Perdue said in a statement. “In some instances, producers have suffered multiple disaster events in one year or in several years back-to-back.”
Frozen conditions in the Red River Valley, a region in Minnesota and North Dakota where the majority of sugar beets are grown, damaged thousands of acres of the crop.
A cold snap that extended into the South also hampered sugar cane production. It has tightened domestic supplies of the sweetener, prompting USDA earlier this month to increase U.S. “tariff rate quotas” for sugar imports.
Perdue said USDA will enter into agreements with sugar beet processing cooperatives to distribute the money, and growers who experienced losses can contact their cooperative for details on how receive the disaster aid.