BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The disaster aid bill that was passed by Congress on June 3 included some provisions for U.S. row crop farmers impacted by adverse spring weather.
But what and how much and how farmers will qualify remain questions to be answered.
“We just don’t know how it’s going to be structured. We don’t know if your county has to be declared a disaster area first and how much for corn, how much for soybeans, how much for insurance users, how much if you don’t have insurance,” said Doug Yoder, crop agency manager for Country Financial.
Yoder said the bill that was passed and signed by President Donald Trump includes language for additional assistance for farmers.
“It definitely has language in there talking about additional assistance for prevented plant acres. I simply don’t know how quickly they will get these rules published. Everybody is wanting them yesterday, and so far, I’ve seen nothing published where they give us an indication of when we’ll get all the details,” he said.
Yoder also cautioned against speculation, noting that some speculation could be taken as certainty, when it is anything but that.
“There’s a lot of speculation going on, but I think it’s a little dangerous right now to go down that path. I’ve seen several farm economists, ag economists, go so far as to say they think very few Midwest counties will qualify (for disaster assistance). Again, that’s just them speculating on what they are able to glean from the disaster bill so far,” he said.
Yoder said that kind of projection can do more harm than help for farmers when they already are faced with a challenging crop year.
“You run the risk of misleading farmers right when they are trying to make these critical decisions,” he said.
The disaster bill language gave the U.S. secretary of agriculture the latitude to set percentages for loss. However, the numbers contained in the disaster bill itself are not the final percentages.
“The language gives him the opportunity or the latitude to go as high as 90% of a loss if you have insurance and as high as 70% if you don’t have insurance. But that doesn’t define what he’s actually going to do. Obviously, they are going to have to calculate how many acres they think will qualify, how many counties will qualify and then calculate how big the payment will be for each crop. It could get spread pretty thin, obviously. We do know what the upper limits will be, but that doesn’t mean that is what we are going to get,” Yoder said.