Update Dec. 17, 2018, at 3:50 p.m.
After reports of delays for the second round of Market Facilitation Program payments, USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue launched the second and final round of trade mitigation payments Dec. 18.
USDA officials are urging farmers to fill out the proper paperwork as soon as possible instead of waiting until the last minute. One additional concern is the threat of a federal government shutdown.
A farmer may be waiting until after Jan. 1 to file the paperwork because he or she may want to delay a payment into the new year. But USDA officials say that could be a dangerous strategy. It is possible a federal government shutdown would delay the ability to sign up until after the Jan. 15 deadline has passed.
The MFP was introduced by the administration this fall as a way of helping farmers who had been hurt financially by the trade dispute with China. A simple FSA form can be found online to help farmers apply for the payments, and the first round of payments has been made.
But some farmers haven’t filled out the form, CCC-910.
Producers sign up once for the MFP to be eligible for the first and second payments. The MFP sign-up period opened in September and runs through Jan. 15, with information and instructions provided at www.farmers.gov/mfp.
For farmers who have already applied, completed harvest, and certified their 2018 production, a second payment will be issued on the remaining 50 percent of the producer’s total production, multiplied by the MFP rate for the specific commodity.
Most farmers and market analysts expected a second payment in December. According to federal officials, the Office of Management and Budget held up the process.
“We’ve been arm wrestling with folks at the Office of Management and Budget,” Steve Censky, Deputy Secretary at the USDA, said Dec. 13. “We’ve been pushing for that announcement to be made soon. We’re pushing for that second half of the MFP payments to be made.
“We have been having discussions within the administration and with our friends in the budget office, so we’re taking it to the president. This is a promise that has been made. The (trade) situation hasn’t changed. The farmers are still feeling the impacts.”
Censky, speaking at the Iowa Soybean Association annual policy conference, said that Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was urging the president to overrule OMB and to make the payment soon.
Several agricultural organizations issued press releases late last week making the same request. Groups such as the National Farmers Union and the American Soybean Association said the trade war had done serious damage to the farm economy, and the payments are needed to help keep farmers afloat this winter.