USDA Receives Lawsuit from Farmers Claiming Missed Noninsured Payments

Two farms filed a class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its Secretary Sonny Perdue claiming their payments from the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) were “arbitrarily, capriciously, willfully, or negligently withheld.”

The plaintiffs, Chris Love and RWE Farms, LLC are represented by Buntin, Etheredge & Fowler. The lawsuit was assigned to Judge Andrew L. Brasher in the Alabama Middle District Court. It alleges the plaintiffs’ claims since April 2017 have not been adjudicated and paid timely by the USDA.

“USDA’s wrongful actions and/or inaction and the resulting damage have placed Plaintiffs and Class Members at an imminent, immediate, and continuing risk of financial ruin, including the loss of their farming businesses,” the complaint states. The plaintiffs accuse the USDA of negligence and breach of contract.

Chris Love is an Alabama farmer whose NAP application was accepted. He paid the NAP premium but did not receive payment after submitting a claim for his seedless watermelons and collard greens which encountered excessive moisture and excessive heat. RWE Farms is a Florida farm that encountered the same circumstances, losing cabbage to freezing weather and other crops to excessive moisture.

NAP is built to provide financial assistance when farmers have a low yield, encounter a loss of inventory, are prevented from planting, or encounter an adverse natural or weather event. Under the basic plan, if a farmer loses more than 50 percent of their crop, they are paid 55 percent of the market price for their lost crops. Farmers can purchase buy-up coverage which lowers the percent needed and pays for 100 percent of the market price for the crop.

The plaintiffs seek to include in the class any farmers who were accepted into the NAP program but were not given proceeds after filing a claim. They seek injunctive and declaratory relief and damages, claiming a loss of revenue and time, inability to continue their farming operations, and anxiety or emotional distress.