USDA assisting farmers with losses

Last summer's drought had a damaging effect on most of the Panhandle, and many farmers saw little to nothing from their harvests.

Luckily, some help is on the way.

Wednesday, the USDA announced it would make more than $300 million available, to provide financial and technical assistance for farmers to rebuild and repair their damaged land.

The help will be provided to 33 states and Puerto Rico that were hit by natural disasters like flooding, tornadoes and most important for the Texas Panhandle drought, but one local farmer says this is no different than the help they were already receiving.

"It's basically the same program that we've had for the last three years, maybe four, the SURE program is basically our disaster program we've had," said Claude Farmer, Troy Skarke.

Signups for the 2010 Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments program are going on right now.

Skarke says unless a hailstorm hit your land, you probably won't qualify for that money, but in 2011, the drought affected most producers, keeping them from even having a crop.

â??Some were able to make a wheat crop, we were able to make a decent wheat crop with sub moisture we had, but the sorghum crop never came up, and you'll recall the summer months just never got any rain.â??

Which makes disaster assistance extremely valuable, but Skarke says the downfall to the SURE program is they are a year behind.

â??We're just now signing up for the 2010 program, which not many qualified for, so it'll be a year from now before we will actually go into the FSA office and sign up for the 2011.â??

Despite the amount of time it will take to file with the sure program, Skarke says it is nice to know that safety net is there.

Crop insurance is what Skarke says was most beneficial this year, because it let producers who had it, cover input costs and help carry them through the year.