By Tianna DuPont, WSU Extension
The Tree Assistance Program (TAP) provides financial assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes, and vines lost by natural disasters. The Washington State committee has designated losses to X-disease phytoplasma and Little Cherry Virus (as well as fire blight) as eligible natural disasters in Washington state. New August 2020 the Washington State Committee determined that when infection reaches or exceeds 20% of a stand/block AND the grower has made the decision to remove the whole block all remaining trees in the stand become no longer commercially viable and may be considered for tree loss assistance.
To be eligible for assistance orchardists would need:
- Testing results showing presence of X-disease phytoplasma or Little cherry virus.
- Suffer at least a 18% tree loss (15% adjusted for 3% normal mortality as designated by the state committee). An FSA loss adjuster must visit to designate % loss before trees are removed. Orchardists can herbicide treat or stump but not remove affected trees before application approval.
- Replace eligible trees within 12 months of approval. The orchardist can apply for an extension of one additional year if trees are not available which would have to be approved by the State FSA committee.
Eligibility for blocks where whole block removal is needed:
- When an infection presence reaches 20% or greater removal of the entire block associated with the infection is recommended.
- NEW Aug 2020: The State Committee recognizes that once a producer is faced with the decision for eradication, all remaining trees in the stand become no longer commercially viable and therefore may be included in the lost trees for assistance in the stand. When infection reaches or exceeds 20% AND the grower has made the decision to remove the whole block the entire block would be eligible.
- Producer’s shall be required to provide results of testing which confirms the presence of Little cherry virus or X-disease phytoplasma.
- Producers shall provide a letter from a third party horticulturalist who has knowledge of the site and provides a recommendation for total stand removal to control the spread of the pathogens before applying this STC policy.
- An FSA loss adjuster must visit to designate % loss before trees are removed. Orchardists may herbicide treat or stump but not remove affected trees before the visit.
- Replace eligible trees within 12 months of removal. The orchardist can apply for an extension if trees are not available which would have to be approved by the State FSA committee.
- Test trees in your block to establish presence of X-disease or Little cherry virus.
- Obtain letter from horticulturalist stating the degree of the problem and whether entire block removal is recommended.
- Start your application process with the above information to trigger a site assessment!
- Trees may be herbicide treated/ trees stumped.
- After receipt of applications FSA offices will conduct: 1) assessment of number of eligible trees; 2) environmental assessment; 3) cultural assessment.
Removal of trees prior to FSA approval will make the application ineligible for program benefits.
Growers are eligible for 65 percent of the actual cost of replanting, in excess of 15 percent mortality (adjusted for normal mortality), and, where applicable, 50 percent of the actual cost of rehabilitation, in excess of 15 percent damage or mortality (adjusted for normal tree damage and mortality). After the applicant qualifies for payment by meeting the mortality threshold, payments will be calculated as the lesser of, their actual cost receipts, or the total determined eligible trees lost times the established practice payment rate.
See the FSA factsheet for details: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSA-Public/usdafiles/FactSheets/tree_assistance_program-tap-fact_sheet.pdf
Contact your local FSA office for more information:
Chelan County: Anita Perez, PT (509) 662-1141 ext 3690
Yakima County: Maria De La Mora, PT (509) 367-8585
Benton County: Victoria Marsh, CED (509) 786-2313
Franklin County: Bruce Clatterbuck, CED (509) 416-5722
Okanogan County: Celest Acord, CED (509) 422-2750
Douglas County: Sherry Ramin, PT (509) 745-8561
Grant County: Gus Jensvold, CED (509) 754-2463