Hurricane Katrina Forest Recovery

As we work together to tackle the historic challenge that Hurricane Katrina has presented to the forestry communities of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, we hope that this blog will be a valuable resource and tool.

Tuesday, February 28

Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005

  • Provides relief for small timber owners. Timber owners with less than 500 acres of timber in the Zone may expense $20,000 of reforestation costs incurred from August 27, 2005 through December 31, 2007. These owners may also elect a five-year carryback of net operating losses incurred after August 27, 2005 and before December 31, 2007.

Mississippi Economic Impact
The Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005 is federal legislation that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in December of 2005. This legislation provides for Federal Tax Incentives to areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma that were designated as warranting individual or public and individual assistance. Mississippi counties that are included in the Zone for individual and public assistance are:
Adams, Amite, Attala, Claiborne, Choctaw, Clarke, Copiah, Covington, Forrest, Franklin, George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Kemper, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Leake, Lincoln, Lowndes, Madison, Marion, Neshoba, Newton, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Pearl River, Perry, Pike, Rankin, Scott, Simpson, Smith, Stone, Walthall, Warren, Wayne, Wilkinson, Winston and Yazoo.

For More INFORMATION: MS Development Authority,

Summary of Incentives:

  • Expands low-income housing tax credits within the Zone. The emergency allocation of low-income housing tax credits is $18 multiplied by Mississippi’s population in the Zone. (This is up from the existing allocation of $1.90 per capita.) This allocation is increased for 2006, 2007, and 2008. Unused allocation amounts may not be carried forward.
  • Increases Rehabilitation Tax Credit to help restore commercial buildings. The existing tax credit of 10% of qualified expenditures incurred for qualified rehabilitated buildings was increased to 13%. For historic structures, this credit was increased from 20% to 26%. These increases apply to qualifying expenses incurred from August 28, 2005 through December 31, 2008.
  • Allows Employer Provided Housing Incentives. For a six-month period, employers are eligible for a 30% tax credit for the cost of employer-provided housing for employees, with a maximum cost of $600 per month per employee located in the Zone. Additionally, up to $600 per month of such costs would be excluded from the employee’s income.
  • Allows 50% Bonus Depreciation within the Zone.* This incentive allows businesses to claim an additional first-year depreciation deduction equal to 50% of the cost of new property investments made in the Zone. This depreciation allowance applies to software, leasehold improvements, and certain equipment and real estate expenditures. All depreciation deductions would be exempt from Alternative Minimum Taxes. This provision applies to property placed in service through December 31, 2007, or December 31, 2008 for real property. The provision also provides a one-year extension of time to place assets in service in the Zone in order to qualify for the bonus depreciation provided in the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003.
  • Provides enhanced Section 179 expensing for Small Businesses.* Eligible small businesses (businesses with less than $400,000 of annual investments) may expense $200,000 of investment made in the Zone. This amount is up from $100,000, and will be allowed on investments from August 28, 2005 through December 31, 2007. The phase-out floor for investment is also increased from $400,000 to $1 million through 2007.
  • Extends Net Operating Loss Carryback.* The net operating loss (“NOL”) carryback period is extended from two to five years for losses attributable to:
    ******New investment and repair of existing investment damaged by Hurricane Katrina
    ******Business casualty losses due to Hurricane Katrina
    *****Moving expenses and temporary housing expense for employees working in areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Taxpayers with losses associated with public utility property caused by Hurricane Katrina may either carryback a net operating loss attributable to certain casualty losses 10 years, or treat certain casualty losses as having occurred five years prior to the disaster.

  • Provides for expensing of cleanup costs. Businesses may expense 50% of cleanup and demolition costs in the Zone. Brownfield expensing is also extended and expanded to include sites contaminated by petroleum products. This incentive expires after December 31, 2007.
  • Provides relief for small timber owners. Timber owners with less than 500 acres of timber in the Zone may expense $20,000 of reforestation costs incurred from August 27, 2005 through December 31, 2007. These owners may also elect a five-year carryback of net operating losses incurred after August 27, 2005 and before December 31, 2007.
  • Expands the Employee Retention Tax Credit. Provides a tax credit equal to 40% of the first $6,000 of wages paid per employee to employers that maintain eligible employees on their payroll. Wages must have been paid prior to January 1, 2006. This credit is available to employers whose businesses are inoperable as a result of damage sustained by Hurricane Katrina, and is not affected if the employee reported to work at another location while the business was inoperable.
  • Increases New Markets Tax Credits. $1 billion in New Markets Tax Credit authority is provided from 2005 through 2007. This authority is for investment in Community Development Entities with recovery and redevelopment of the Zone as a significant mission.
  • Increases Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning Credits. This provision doubles the Hope Credit dollar amounts so the maximum credit is $3,000, and doubles the Lifetime Learning Credit percentage to 40%, for a maximum Lifetime Learning Credit of $4,000. Room and board are considered qualified expenses.
  • Provides additional Bonding Authority.* To assist in the rebuilding effort, the state is authorized to issue up to $4,773,000,000 of a special class of private activity bonds called GO Zone Bonds outside the state volume caps. The State or municipalities may issue these bonds, with the proceeds used to pay for acquisition, construction, and renovation of non-residential real property. Low-income housing rules are relaxed, so more bond proceeds may be used to rebuild housing in the Zone. Mortgage revenue bonds may be used to repair homes (up to $150,000), with the first-time homebuyer rule waived. Interest payments are not subject to Alternative Minimum Taxes. This authority expires after December 31, 2010.
  • Allows Mississippi and municipalities to reduce costs by restructuring outstanding debt. One additional advance refunding before January 1, 2011 is allowed for states and municipalities within the Zone, with an additional authorization for Mississippi of $2.25 billion. This allows the bond issuer to restructure eligible debt by refinancing at a lower rate or spreading interest over a longer period of time. Certain 501(c) (3) bonds are also eligible for advance refunding as well.
  • Authorizes Gulf Tax Credit Debt Service Bonds. The state is authorized to issue debt service tax credit bonds to help devastated communities meet their debt service requirements as a result of the hurricane. Bonds must mature no more than two years after issuance, and must be issued before January 1, 2007. Mississippi’s allocation is $100 million.
  • Gulf Coast Recovery Bonds. Expresses the sense of Congress that one or more series of savings bonds should be designated as “Gulf Coast Recovery Bonds.”

*GO Zone bonus depreciation, section 179 expensing, extended NOL carryback, and bonding authority will not be allowed for private or commercial golf courses, country clubs, massage parlors, hot tub facilities, suntan facilities, liquor stores, or gambling or animal racing property.

Friday, February 24

White House Study Finds Pervasive Failures Through Government

A White House report concluded Thursday that inexperienced disaster response managers and a lack of planning, discipline and leadership contributed to vast federal failures during Hurricane Katrina. The 228-page report by White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend urges changes in 11 key areas -- mainly in better disaster relief coordination among federal agencies -- before the next hurricane season begins June 1.
The White House study took a softer approach than a scathing House report issued last week, focusing on proposals to fix problems without singling out any individuals for blame. (
Key points)

"We will learn from the lessons of the past to better protect the American people," President Bush said Thursday at the end of a Cabinet meeting where the report was released.
"I wasn't satisfied with the federal response," Bush said. Townsend, speaking to reporters later, said the White House fell short in cutting through bureaucratic red tape and quickly settling disputes among response agencies. Her review also cites failures at a half-dozen federal agencies, singling out the Homeland Security Department for lacking fast communication with emergency responders and the public, and an inadequate system for stockpiling supplies before a disaster hits.

"In the end, we must do a much better job at preparation, at planning, and improve out response," Townsend said. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff commended the White House's 125 recommendations, which he said were aided by his department.
"We have already begun to take action to address many of the issues raised in the report, particularly those areas we need to improve before the start of the 2006 hurricane season," Chertoff said in a statement. He called the report consistent with internal changes already under way at Homeland Security. The White House review comes a week after the special Republican-dominated House committee investigating the slow response found fault at every level of government -- including the president and Chertoff.

Among the White House's suggestions is a stronger role for the Pentagon in planning for disaster response, including working with Homeland Security to determine when the military should take over federal relief efforts in extraordinary cases. Bush ordered the review days after the response to the August storm revealed widespread federal disaster relief gaps. More than 1,300 Gulf Coast residents died after Katrina hit, and hundreds of thousands more were forced from their destroyed homes. The report says that despite people and resources sent after the storm hit, "the response to Hurricane Katrina fell far short of the seamless, coordinated effort that had been envisioned by President Bush" when he ordered the government to craft disaster response plans two years earlier. "We are not as prepared as we need to be at all levels within the country: federal, state, local and individual," the report said.

Significant flaws
The review found "significant flaws" in the national response plan the Department of Homeland Security issued last year that serves as a blueprint for action the government is supposed to follow during emergencies. And the review called for establishing a National Operations Center to coordinate disaster response at all levels of government for future crises.

In one example of miscommunication among Homeland Security officials, the report notes that the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning in New Orleans, Louisiana, at 9:12 a.m. the day Katrina hit, stating up to 8 feet of water was expected because of a levee breach at the Industrial Canal. However, at 6 p.m., the Homeland Security Operations Center told senior department officials and the White House that "preliminary reports indicate the levees in New Orleans have not been breached, however an assessment is still pending."

Meanwhile, response officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency delayed sending aid supplied by the Agriculture, Interior and Veterans' Affairs departments because of inexperience in coordinating help and unfamiliarity with those federal programs, the report found. Written in an even, methodical tone, the report characterizes Katrina as the storm of a century, comparing its destruction in New Orleans to the deadly Chicago fires in 1871 and the earthquake and fire in San Francisco in 1906. It calls Katrina the nation's deadliest natural disaster since Hurricane San Felipe in 1928.

It also describes Katrina as the first U.S. disaster -- natural or man-made -- with damage estimates approaching $100 billion. It does not look at ways to improve state and local preparedness and response missions.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Thursday, February 23

White House to Issue Own Storm Report

The Associated Press

A White House assessment of the sluggish federal response to Hurricane Katrina calls for better defining the military's role during catastrophes, opening the door for the Pentagon to oversee government relief efforts in extreme cases, officials said Wednesday.

The "lessons learned" review of 125 recommendations, to be released today, does not call for any resignations, despite recent demands - mostly by Democrats - for Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to step down. It also recommends keeping the beleaguered Federal Emergency Management Agency under Chertoff's control, according to a Bush administration official.

Though some agencies, like the Coast Guard, successfully rescued tens of thousands of storm victims, "there are other areas where all levels of government fell short - the federal, the state and the local," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.
"What we want to do is take a close look at what worked and what didn't work and apply those lessons to the future," he said.

The report, by White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend, was expected to be less scathing than a House report issued last week. The House review blamed all levels of government for indifference toward disaster preparations that contributed to deaths and suffering in Katrina's aftermath. That study, by a Republican-led House committee, also found that earlier involvement by President Bush could have spurred a faster response.

Bush, who ordered the White House report, has accepted responsibility for the government's halting response to the Aug. 29 storm. The hurricane killed 1,300 people and forced hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents to abandon their damaged or destroyed homes.
The review offers solutions to only some of the government's shortfalls, according to a senior administration official familiar with a draft of the 125 recommendations.

But the document, which a congressional aide said approaches 200 pages, proposes some sweeping changes to federal response plans. They include better defining the military's role during response missions - potentially making the Pentagon the lead agency when state and local resources are overwhelmed, two officials said.

That would only happen in the worst of catastrophic disasters, such as storms of Katrina's magnitude and terror attacks, the officials said. Currently, the Homeland Security Department coordinates federal disaster relief missions under a national response plan it issued last year.
A second administration official said Chertoff would keep his job under the review despite recent calls - mostly by Democrats - for the security chief's resignation.

That official said FEMA will remain under Chertoff's control, even though critics have called for the agency to be removed from Homeland Security and answer directly to the president.

Tuesday, February 21

IRS Postpones Filing, Payment Deadlines

The Internal Revenue Service is postponing taxpayer filing and payment deadlines for affected taxpayers hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina. The additional time will allow taxpayers to focus on rebuilding.

Individual and business taxpayers in the most severely damaged parishes and counties of Louisiana and Mississippi automatically have through August 28, 2006, to file returns and make certain tax payments that had a due date or extended due date on or after August 29, 2005, and on or before August 28, 2006. In addition, the failure to deposit penalty will be waived for taxpayers in these areas who are unable to make their deposits during this time period.
The postponement applies automatically to taxpayers in the Mississippi counties of Hancock, Harrison and Jackson.

To ensure taxpayers outside the above areas who suffered severe hurricane damage get necessary relief from filing and payment deadlines, these taxpayers must identify themselves as impacted. These taxpayers should identify themselves by writing "Hurricane Katrina" in red ink at the top of the return when filing, or by calling the IRS Disaster hotline toll-free at 1-866-562-5227.

Individual, corporation, partnership, estate, trust, S-corporation, generation-skipping, employment and certain excise tax returns qualify for the extension.

Thursday, February 9

Corps Offering Debris Removal Phone Line

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has opened a 24-hour customer service phone line for those seeking removal of debris caused by Hurricane Katrina from private property. According to the Corps, it has received approximately 20,000 requests for this service.

"Our debris clients need a very clear, quick path to report problems with their debris removal," said Michael Logue, public affairs officer at Task Force Hope, Mississippi.

The special phone line allows private property debris clients to file a trouble ticket live with a technician, or voice mail if the phone lines are busy or calls are received after hours. (The Corps said voice mail will be given the same priority as a live message.) Trouble tickets will be given to debris management specialists twice daily.

Logue said the phone representative is not able to forecast work or resolve debris or other recovery issues. "Someone will call you back who can talk about your problem," Logue said. "Our goal is to follow up to the caller within 24 hours."

The Corps is asking callers to be prepared to provide name, phone number, ROE number, property address and a brief description of the issue. The phone number is (601) 631-5065. It will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday

Monday, February 6

MS Temporary Hurricane Timber Salvage Permit for Log Trucks Extended Through May 6th

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused extensive damage to timber in Mississippi. Damaged timber must be salvaged quickly to ensure its marketability. Literal compliance by transporters of unprocessed timber products with the requirements in Section 63, Mississippi Statutes, relating to the weight limits for commercial vehicles, may impede the shipment of unprocessed timber products affected by the disaster.

To aid with timely salvage operations and to alleviate further economic damage to the Mississippi timber industry, the Mississippi Department of Transportation Office of Enforcement has issued a Temporary Order of Authority to allow the transport of unprocessed timber from the affected areas to the first point of storage or processing under the following guidelines. This Temporary Order is effective from February 6, 2006 until May 6, 2006. The affected counties are listed below and will be re-evaluated every 30 days. It is the transporter’s responsibility to be aware of any changes to this list of applicable counties.

1. The weight for any such commercial vehicle transporting unprocessed timber on specified roadways maintained by the State of Mississippi shall not exceed the following:
A. The maximum Gross Vehicle Weight for vehicles equipped with five (5) weight-bearing axles with outer bridge spans of not less than forty (40) feet, but less than fifty-one (51) feet, shall not exceed ninety thousand (90,000) pounds. Tandem axles shall not exceed 42,000 lbs. Steer axle shall not exceed 20,000 lbs
B. The maximum Gross Vehicle Weight for vehicles equipped with five (5) weight-bearing axles with outer bridge spans of not less than fifty-one (51) feet shall not exceed ninety-five thousand (95,000) pounds. Tandem axles shall not exceed 42,000 lbs. Steer axle shall not exceed 20,000 lbs
C. The maximum Gross Vehicle Weight for vehicles equipped with four (4) weight-bearing axles with outer bridge spans of not less than forty-three (43) feet shall not exceed eighty thousand (80,000) pounds. Tandem axles shall not exceed 42,000 lbs. Steer axle shall not exceed 20,000 lbs
D. The total length for any vehicle identified above shall not exceed eighty (80) feet. Rear overhang shall not exceed 28 feet. Daylight movement only for any overhang 4 feet or over.

2. Nothing in this Temporary Permit shall be construed to allow any vehicle to exceed weight limits posted for bridges and like structures, nor shall anything in this Temporary Permit be construed to relieve any vehicle or the carrier, owner, or driver from compliance with any restrictions other than those specified in this Permit, or from any statute, rule, order or other legal requirement not specifically waived herein including Mississippi registration, apportioned tags, or Mississippi temporary registration.

3. Nothing in this Temporary Permit allows any vehicle to travel on County maintained roadways. The County/Counties Board of Supervisors or Designee must be contacted for permits and routing information.

The original MDOT Order of Authority expired on November 6, 2005 and was replaced by an Order that expired on February 6, 2006. This Order is effective from February 6 through May 6, 2006. The new regulations are posted on MDOT’s website and also on the Mississippi Forest Recovery Task Force’s web blog. Visit either or the MDOT website for complete information: The MDOT homepage is

There are two pages in the Order on the MDOT website. The first is the necessary written permit which must be completed and faxed to the Law Enforcement Office for approval. This Permit must then be placed in the cab of each truck hauling the increased weight. The second page is a list of applicable MS counties.Since MDOT authorized these Temporary Orders of Authority, many questions have arisen about the new regulations. The best, most accurate answers to your trucking questions in Mississippi can be obtained directly from MDOT’s Law Enforcement Division personnel in Jackson, MS. You may call the following personnel at 601.359.1707 and receive answers to all your trucking inquiries:Chief Willie Huff, Joe Marshall, or Tommy Thames.

The Mississippi Forest Recovery Task Force and MFA wishes to thank the leadership of MDOT, and all the agency’s field enforcement personnel, for their full cooperation as together we continue to work to overcome many logistical obstacles related to timber salvage and recovery.Questions or request for applications should be directed to Permit Office in Jackson.Phone (888)737-0061, (601) 359-1707Fax #: (601)359-5928 or (601)359-1663Office Hours: 7:30 am – 4:30 pm
The permittee must sign and fax the timber salvage permit (page 1 from website) to the permit office for approval.
The permittee must place a signed and approved copy of the Permit in the cab of the vehicle. If Permit is not in the vehicle it may be deemed not to be permitted and may be penalized accordingly.

Applicable Mississippi Counties, Feb. 6 through May 6, 2006

Jefferson Davis
Pearl River

Mississippi’s Arbor Day is February 10

Citizens across Mississippi will celebrate the state’s official Arbor Day on February 10, 2006. The theme this year is “ReLeaf Mississippi,” with special recognition to the tree recovery efforts in the counties hard hit by Hurricane Katrina.

“Arbor Day is one day out of the year dedicated to recognizing the importance of trees to our quality of life,” said interim State Forester Everard Baker of the Mississippi Forestry Commission. “Trees and healthy forests provide clean water, clean air, healthy habitats for wildlife, great recreation for people, and the forest products we need, whether it’s wood for our homes, or paper for books used to educate our children.”

A special one-hour Arbor Day ceremony at the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson will start at 10 a.m., February 10, with a tree planting ceremony following the indoor program. Highlights of the program include the reading of Governor Barbour’s Mississippi Arbor Day proclamation, comments about the importance of trees from Lt. Governor Amy Tuck and other dignitaries, special singing, and an “A, B, C’s of Trees” presentation by students from Clinton Park Elementary. The public is invited and encouraged to attend this special event.

In addition to Arbor Day, many Mississippians will also celebrate Tree Planting Week from February 10 to 17, 2006. Local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, in cooperation with the state Soil and Water Conservation Commission, the Mississippi Forestry Commission, and other conservation agencies and organizations, will distribute tree seedlings to the public and conduct tree planting programs at schools.

For information about Arbor Day and Tree Planting Week activities, contact the local office of the county Soil and Water Conservation District, MSU Cooperative Extension Service, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resource Conservation Service, or the Mississippi Forestry Commission.

Wednesday, February 1

Hurricane Katrina Impacts on Pine Species: Implications for Landowners

Hurricane Katrina roared through Mississippi on August 29, 2005. In her path, some 1.2 million acres of forestland were damaged. This is about two years worth of annual harvest down in one day. Hardwood bottomlands, pine sawtimber, and recently thinned pine stands were most severely damaged
However, not all pine species were affected equally, and this has significant implications for landowners as they recover from Katrina. Two pine plantations, established in southern Forrest County in 1985, allowed us to determine the impact of Katrina on different pine species. Each of these 20-year-old plantations was planted partly in loblolly, partly in slash, and partly in longleaf pine. All were thinned about 4 years ago.

After Katrina, plots were established in each of the plantations. Data were collected on whether or not the trees were damaged, the type of damage, and other information. Some of the results are listed in the table below.

Several items are worth noting. First, the percentage of trees with no hurricane damage varies considerably by pine species. Only 16% of loblolly pines were undamaged, 52% of the slash pine was undamaged, and 64% of the longleaf pine was undamaged. These differences occurred on both sites, and are consistent with other areas we have observed.

The second thing worth noting is the type of damage. The majority of the damage with both loblolly and slash pines was with snapped trees. Snapped trees rapidly lose the vast majority of their value, sometimes in excess of 90%. Most of the snapped trees went from Chip-N-Saw products before Katrina to pulpwood immediately after Katrina. However, the majority of damage with longleaf pine was in either the leaning or blown over category. Leaning or blown over trees, because their root systems are at least partially intact, hold their value much longer. They are able to be harvested for higher value forest products long after snapped trees have gone for pulpwood.

In light of the damage to thinned loblolly pine stands, these results demonstrate that landowners with property south of Hattiesburg should seriously consider replanting with slash or longleaf pine, as both are more wind-resistant than loblolly pine. This is also important as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated, “it is quite possible that the extreme (hurricane) activity since 1995 marks the start of another active period that may last a total of 25-40 years.”

Contact: Dr. Glenn Hughes, Extension Forester, MSU Extension Service, P.O. Box 348, Purvis, MS 39475. Email Phone (601) 794-0671.

Aid For Forest Landowners Affected By Hurricanes Of 2005

On January 26, 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $2.8 billion in aid to assist victims of the 2005 hurricane season. USDA will provide $1.2 billion in aid to forest landowners and agricultural producers; primarily in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas. USDA will provide disaster payments to farmers, ranchers and others through eight separate programs. Funding is provided through (1) Section 32 of the Act of August 24, 1935 and (2) The Department of Defense, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pandemic Influenza Act, 2006.

For more information about these and other USDA disaster programs, visit


Forest Landowner Programs
In addition to the Section 32 funds, USDA is providing $903.9 million to forest landowners adversely affected by hurricanes in 2005. Funding is provided by The Department of Defense, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pandemic Influenza Act, 2006.

Landowners will receive assistance through the following programs:
-*- $199.8 million for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP);
-*- $404.1 million for Emergency Forestry CRP; and
-*- $300 million for the Emergency Watershed Program (EWP).

Eligible landowners can apply now for ECP funds to remove hurricane debris from farmland at their USDA Service Center. EWP funds for eligible projects are available today. Sign-up dates for the Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program will be announced as soon as new regulations and software are developed.

Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) - Through ECP, emergency funding and technical assistance for landowners to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures in periods of severe drought.

**Administered by FSA.

**Expanded the authority for ECP to include payments to nursery, oyster, and poultry producers to: rehabilitate public and private oyster reefs; clean up structures such as barns and poultry houses; provide water to livestock; in the case of nursery producers, remove debris such as nursery structures, shade-houses, and above ground irrigation facilities; in the case of oyster producers, refurbishing oyster beds; and in the case of poultry producers, remove poultry house debris, including carcasses.

**Increased ECP cost-share assistance from 75 percent to 90 percent.

**$20 million of the ECP funds is made available to poultry growers who suffered uninsured losses to poultry houses. Payments to poultry growers are limited to 50 percent of the total costs associated with the restoration of a poultry house - or $50,000 for each poultry house. There is a further limit for poultry growers in that the total amount of assistance provided under the ECP and any indemnities for losses to poultry house paid to a poultry grower (insurance payments), cannot exceed 90 percent of the total costs associated with the reconstruction or repair of a poultry house.

**On private nonindustrial forest, landowners must have suffered a loss of at least 35 percent of the forest acres on commercial forest land.

**Payments to private nonindustrial forest landowners limited to 75 percent of the cost of reforestation, rehabilitation, and related measures, not to exceed $150 per acre.

Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
--Administered by FSA.
--2006 Defense Appropriations Act provides $404.1 million for a CRP pilot project for merchantable timber losses on private non-industrial forests.
--Owners of land must have experienced at least a 35 percent loss of merchantable timber.
--10-annual payments or 1-lump sum payment.

Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP)
*Administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

*2006 Defense Appropriations Act provides supplemental funding of $300 million for EWP to repair damages resulting from hurricanes that occurred during calendar year 2005.

*Cost share available for cleaning up structures on private land and to reimburse private non-industrial forest landowners for costs associated with downed timber removal at a rate not to exceed $150 per acre.

*Provides for financial and technical assistance to remove and dispose of debris and animal carcasses that could adversely affect health and safety on non-Federal land in a hurricane-affected county.

*Provides emergency funding and technical assistance to help landowners and communities respond to emergencies created by natural disasters, including clearing debris from clogged waterways, restoring vegetation, stabilizing river banks, repairing levees and structures; reseeding damaged areas; and purchasing floodplain easements.

*All projects undertaken, with the exception of floodplain easements, must be sponsored by a legal subdivision of the State and could include a city, county, conservation district or Native American tribe. Public and private landowners are eligible for assistance but must be represented by a project sponsor.

*NRCS provides up to 75 percent of the funds needed to restore the natural function of a watershed and up to 90 percent in limited resource areas. The community or local sponsor of the work pays the remaining cost-share, which can be provided by cash or in-kind services.
Sponsors are responsible for providing land rights to do repair work and securing the necessary permits. Sponsors are also responsible for furnishing the local cost share and for accomplishing the installation of work.


Programs Created with Section 32 Funds
USDA is providing $250 million for crop disaster, livestock, tree, and aquaculture assistance from Section 32 funds. These funds will be distributed by way of five new programs:
*Hurricane Indemnity Program (HIP);
*Tree Indemnity Program (TIP);
*Feed Indemnity Program (FIP);
*Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP); and
*Aquaculture Grants.

Producers in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas counties declared primary presidential or secretarial disaster areas in 2005 because of hurricanes are eligible for the new programs. A complete list of the counties is posted online Producers must also meet other eligibility requirements.

USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) will administer the five programs. Sign-up dates for the new programs (HIP, TIP, FIP, and LIP) will be announced as soon as new regulations and software are developed. Application procedures for aquaculture funds will be made by governors or their designees.

Hurricane Indemnity Program (HIP) - HIP will provide payments to farmers who received crop insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) payments as a result of the hurricanes. The payment will be 30 percent of the crop insurance indemnity or NAP payment and will be capped at 95 percent of the expected crop returns.

Tree Indemnity Program (TIP) - TIP will provide flat payments per acre for the re-planting and rehabilitation (such as pruning or staking) of perennial orchards, vines, and bushes that produce an annual crop, damaged as a result of the hurricanes. Loss levels will be established by tiers of damage. USDA anticipates four tiers with one covering producers who had 90 percent or greater loss, and the other three tiers covering the remainder of the spectrum. Producers will certify to the tier which corresponds to their level of loss. Payments will not be made on a reimbursable basis. Timber losses are not included in this program.

Feed Indemnity Program (FIP) - FIP will provide payments to eligible owners and cash lessees of certain types of forage based livestock for feed losses. The payment rate will be equal to a set amount per type of livestock. To be eligible for payments, producers would self-certify to feed losses.

Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) - LIP will provide payments to producers whose livestock died as a direct result of the hurricanes. The payment will be based on 75 percent of the average sales price for each category of livestock. Payments will be included for contract growers of livestock, such as poultry, who lost livestock.

Aquaculture Grants - USDA will provide block grants to states adversely affected by the hurricanes in 2005 for aquaculture losses. Aquaculture producers not covered by other disaster programs will be eligible for these funds.