Updated on 6/3/2021
Q: What is the block grant?
A: To receive payment the eligible applicant must be registered into STAARS. Applicants will be contacted by AFC staff after all the necessary stipulations for the program have been met on the application and in the field. From there they will be instructed on how to get into STAARS, and after they are registered into STAARS the AFC will begin processing the payments to the applicants.
Q: How do I apply to the block grant?
A: Producers should first register for the block grant on our website. The application portal will open on June 14, 2021. You will find the link to the application here: Application Link. You will not be able to visit or see the actual application until the portal is open.
Q: What can my block grant payment be used to purchase?
A: Unlike some programs that are specifically related to reforestation or equipment replacement, the block grant is to help recover lost income from the timber crop that was destroyed as a result of Hurricane Michael. Once your application has been approved and you receive your payment from the State of Alabama, that is your money to spend as you see fit.
Q: Will applying to the block grant impact my eligibility for other grant programs?
A: Applying to the block grant should not impact your ability to apply to other grant programs. The block grant is a payment to landowners to help them recover a portion of their lost income from timber crop damage as a result of Hurricane Michael. If you are applying to another grant program for reforestation activities, such as the FSA Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP), there would not be a duplication of benefits because EFRP pays for reforestation while the block grant pays for timber crop loss.
Q: I have submitted an application to the block grant, but I do not know if I am eligible. What are my next steps?
A: An Alabama Forestry Commission employee will assist you with the application and eligibility verification process. Typically, a site inspection and/or review of available documentation will be required before a final determination can be made on the amount of funds you are eligible to receive through the program.
Q: What is an eligible county?
A: Eligible counties are those within Alabama that received a Presidential Disaster Declaration as a result of Hurricane Michael. The following counties are eligible: Henry, Houston, Dale, Geneva, Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Escambia, Crenshaw, Montgomery, Bullock, Russell, Lee.
Q: Am I eligible to receive funds if I already cleared my land?
A: Yes, you may still be eligible to receive funds through the block grant even if you have cleared your land. Staff will utilize all available documentation to verify your eligibility for the program.
Q: If I am participating or have participated in other state or federal programs, am I still eligible to participate in the block grant?
A: Yes, you may still be eligible to receive funds through the block grant even if you have received funds from other state and federal grant programs. Please notify your Account Manager of any other grant funds you have received for Hurricane Michael related losses on your property.
Q: Are non-citizens eligible to apply to the Block Grant?
A: To be eligible for the block grant, applicants must fall into one of the following categories:
- citizen of the United States;
- resident alien; for purposes of this part, resident alien means “lawful alien” as defined in 7 CFR part 1400;
- partnership consisting solely of citizens or resident aliens of the United States; or
- corporation, limited liability corporation, or other farm organizational structure organized under State law consisting solely of citizens or resident aliens of the United.
Q: How do I get my block grant payment?
A: You need to register through the STAARS system. There is a fact sheet available on the block grant website which provides directions for how to sign up. Once your producer number from STAARS is verified the Alabama Forestry Commission accounting staff will begin to process payments.
Q: How is my block grant payment calculated?
A: Payments are made based on a fixed dollar amount per acre that is assigned based on the age and species of the stand of timber, and whether the stand sustained a 25-34% loss or a 35% or greater loss. A detailed breakdown of the formula and the different payment amounts will be available in the guidelines for the block grant. These tables will be implemented by AFC field personnel to provide dollar figures on a per acre basis regarding each applicants payment.
Q. How long does it take to get my payment once everything is properly signed and submitted?
A: The time for receipt of payment varies. Turn in all required documentation to help expedite the process. Please be patient as the AFC staff expects a large turn out for this program, and will be working constantly to complete all applications.
Q. How many payments can I expect?
A: Only one payment will be made to eligible producers under the block grant.
Q. How are payments made if I share ownership on my timber stand, do you split up the payments for each owner?
A: If the stand is under multiple ownerships, then both parties will need to apply for the program. Both parties will also need to provide their percentage of ownership as well. Payment will be processed to the applicants as registered in the State payment systems. The Alabama Forestry Commission can assist with any unique situations; please let them know at the time of application.
Q: Will the Alabama Forestry Commission require extra documents to assist in verifying timber loss?
A: The AFC has the ability to request further documentation, if available, that will assist them in obtaining accurate data for the timber loss assessment.