Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced today that dairy producers have until Sept. 9, 2005, to sign up for the 2004 Dairy Disaster Assistance Payment (DDAP) Program. The program provides up to $10 million to assist dairy producers who experienced losses due to the 2004 hurricanes.

"Last year, Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne severely impacted dairy producers in the southeastern United States," said Johanns. "This program will provide much-needed financial relief to producers who suffered dairy production and milk spoilage losses."

The 2004 Dairy Disaster Assistance Payment Program is authorized by the Military Construction Appropriations and Emergency Hurricane Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2005.

Many dairy producers incurred devastating decreases in production due to cattle losses, stress on producing cows, and milk that had to be dumped due to lack of electricity, closed milk plants and damaged containment equipment. DDAP will help address dairy producers' 2004 calendar-year losses by providing payments to offset part of the milk losses incurred.

To be eligible, the loss must have occurred in a county declared a disaster by the President in 2004 due to hurricanes. Dairy producers in counties contiguous to an approved county are not eligible. Eligible dairy producers must apply for program assistance by Sept. 9, 2005, at local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices.

Applicants must provide adequate proof of the dairy operation's commercial production, including any dumped production, from July through October 2004. Applicants must also certify that losses for which compensation is claimed were hurricane-related.

Payments will begin soon after sign-up ends. Each eligible dairy operation's payment will be calculated by multiplying the eligible pounds by the average price received for commercial milk production during the eligible months. In the event available funds are insufficient to compensate eligible producers, eligible losses above 20 percent will be paid at the maximum per pound rate and losses below 20 percent will be made at a rate that will exhaust the available funds that remain following payment of eligible losses at the higher level.

More information on the program is available at local FSA offices and on FSA's Web site at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/dafp/psd/default.htm

USDA