WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recently announced that help is on the way for those of you impacted by ongoing trade disputes with China, Mexico, the European Union, Turkey and other countries. However, the “devil” so to speak, is in the details. There are plenty to navigate.
The White House Office of Management and Budget authorized $12 billion for the aid package, but Perdue explained that only half of the direct payment portion – the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) – will be released “so that we can monitor and factor in other events.” An announcement about the other half of the payments will be made “in the coming months if warranted,” he added.
That means you can now sign up for the payments, after you provide your 2018 production records to your local Farm Service Agency offices. The payment rates (below) will be multiplied by half the production on a farm for the initial payment:
• Soybeans: $1.65 per bushel
• Wheat: 14 cents per bushel
• Sorghum: 86 cents per bushel
• Cotton: 6 cents per pound
• Corn: 1 cent per bushel
• Dairy: 12 cents per hundredweight
• Hogs: $8 per head
But there are a few more hitches in the program that might further limit the amount you can receive from USDA. MFP payments are capped per person or legal entity at a combined $125,000 for corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans and wheat. MFP payments are also 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 live hogs owned on Aug. 1, 2018.
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.
USDA plans to help producers of a few other commodities by purchasing roughly $1.4 billion worth of apples, pears, apricots, blueberries, beef, oranges and donate these products to feeding programs. Also included in the aid package is $200 million for the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program, which is aimed at helping expand and create foreign markets.
With the highest payment rate offered by USDA, American Soybean Association (ASA) President John Heisdorffer welcomed the plan and said it would offer a “much-needed boost.”
“This will provide a real shot in the arm for our growers, who have seen soybean prices fall by about $2 per bushel, or 20 percent, since events leading to the current tariff war with China began impacting markets in June,” he said.
Not all farm groups were as pleased as ASA, though. The 14 cents per bushel isn’t nearly enough assistance for wheat farmers, said National Association of Wheat Growers President Jimmie Musick.
“About half of all U.S. wheat is exported, making new trade deals and establishing new global markets, a priority for all wheat farmers,” he said. “As a result of the tariffs, China hasn’t purchased any wheat from the United States since March. Further, we estimate that the ongoing trade war will cause a 75 cents a bushel price decrease and a reduction in global wheat production.”
The National Corn Growers Association said the aid plans "would be insufficient to even begin to address the serious damage done to the corn market because of the (Trump) Administration’s actions." NCGA "reiterated its call for the administration to rescind tariffs, secure trade agreements and allow for year-round sales of higher blends of ethanol; no-cost actions that would allow for the marketplace to drive demand."
MFP applications are now 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 to local Farm Service Agency offices.
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