USDA outlines help for farmers hit by trade-triggered market losses

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combining soybeans
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced details Aug. 27 of actions the U.S. Department of Agriculture will take to assist farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation by foreign nations.

President Donald J. Trump directed Secretary Perdue to craft a short-term relief strategy to protect agricultural producers while the administration works on free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets in the long run to help American farmers compete globally.

As announced last month, USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in programs. These programs will assist agricultural producers to meet the costs of disrupted markets:

  • USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will administer the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) to provide payments to corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, and wheat producers starting Sept. 4 (see rates below). Farmers can apply after harvest is 100 percent complete and they can report their total 2018 production. Beginning Sept. 4, MFP applications will be available online at www.farmers.gov/mfp. Producers will also be able to submit their MFP applications in person, by email, fax, or by mail. Eligible applicants must have an ownership interest in the commodity, be actively engaged in farming, and have an average adjusted gross income (AGI) for tax years 2014, 2015, and 2016 of less than $900,000. Applicants must also comply with the provisions of the “Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation” regulations. An announcement about further payments will be made in the coming months, if warranted.
  • USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will administer a Food Purchase and Distribution Program to purchase up to $1.2 billion in commodities unfairly targeted by unjustified retaliation. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will distribute these commodities through nutrition assistance programs such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and child nutrition programs.
  • Through the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP), $200 million will be made available to develop foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products. The program will help U.S. agricultural exporters identify and access new markets and help mitigate the adverse effects of other countries’ restrictions.

About the Market Facilitation Program

Commodity          Initial Payment Rate

Cotton                  $0.06/pound
Corn                     $0.01/bushel
Dairy (milk)           $0.12/cwt.
Pork                      $8/head
Soybeans               $1.65/bu.
Sorghum                $0.86/bu.
Wheat                    $0.14/bu.

The initial MFP payment will be calculated by multiplying 50 percent of the producer’s total 2018 actual production by the applicable MFP rate.

MFP payments are capped per person or legal entity at a combined $125,000 for dairy production or hogs. Payment for dairy production is based off the historical production reported for the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy). For existing dairy operations, the production history is established using the highest annual milk production marketed during the full calendar years of 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Dairy operations are also required to have been in operation on June 1, 2018, to be eligible for payments.

Payment for hog operations will be based off the total number of head of live hogs owned on Aug. 1, 2018.

MFP payments are also capped per person or legal entity at a combined $125,000 for corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans and wheat.

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