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USDA Farm Service Agency Announces Tree Assistance Program (TAP) Sign-up For Watauga/Avery Counties

April 22, 2014. USDA North Carolina Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, Bob Etheridge, announced that orchardists and nursery tree growers who experienced losses from natural disasters that occurred on or after October 1, 2011, can sign up for the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) beginning Tuesday, April 15, 2014. TAP was authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 as a permanent disaster program.

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

“President Obama and Secretary Vilsack made it a priority to begin enrollment for these programs as quickly as possible upon the enactment of the 2014 Farm Bill,” said Etheridge.   

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.

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.

For more information, producers are encouraged to review the 2014 Farm Bill Fact Sheet, and the TAP fact sheet online or the Watauga/Avery County FSA office at 971 West King Street, Boone NC  28607 or Telephone 828 264-3850, ext 2.