USDA sets MFP county payment rates

WASHINGTON — Details of the second round of Market Facilitation Program payments were rolled out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture July 25.

The agency has earmarked up to $14.3 billion for the program to assist farmers and ranchers coping with trade dispute damages. MFP payments will be distributed in three separate tranches.

Eligible producers can submit applications for the first payment from now through Dec. 6, 2019, and payments will be sent out starting mid- to late-August.

The second and third tranches will be evaluated as market conditions and trade opportunities dictate. If conditions warrant, the second and third tranches will be made in November and early January, respectively.

Most commodity grain producers will be compensated based on a single county rate ranging from $15 to $150 per planted acre. The first MFP implemented in 2018 had crop specific payments ranging from $1.65 per bushel for soybeans and 1 cent per bushel for corn at a total cost of $8.5 billion.

For the first round of payments, they will receive a minimum of $15 per acre and up to 50% of the county rate.

In contrast, dairy producers will receive 20 cents per hundredweight based on historical production. Additional relief for hog and specialty crop producers will be available, as well.

Producers who filed a prevented planting claim and planted a Farm Service Agency-certified cover crop with the potential to be harvested qualify for a $15 per acre payment.

Acres that were never planted in 2019 are not eligible for an MFP payment.

‘I’ County Rates

Illinois county per-acre payments range from $87 in Piatt County to $50 in Jo Daviess County.

Per-acre payments in Indiana range from $80 in Tipton County to Starke County’s $44.

In Iowa, per-acre MFP payments are from $79 in Cherokee County to $44 in Allamakee County.

The first payments will be 50% of those county per-acre rates.

Per-acre non-specialty crop county payment rates, specialty crop payment rates and livestock payment rates are all currently available on farmers.gov.

Payments will be made by the FSA under the authority of the Commodity Credit Corp. Charter Act to producers of alfalfa hay, barley, canola, corn, crambe, dried beans, dry peas, extra-long staple cotton, flaxseed, lentils, long grain and medium grain rice, millet, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, rapeseed, rye, safflower, sesame seed, small and large chickpeas, sorghum, soybeans, sunflower seed, temperate japonica rice, triticale, upland cotton and wheat.

MFP assistance for those non-specialty crops is based on a single county payment rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings of MFP-eligible crops in aggregate in 2019.

Those per-acre payments are not dependent on which of those crops are planted in 2019. A producer’s total payment-eligible plantings cannot exceed total 2018 plantings.

Dairy producers who were in business as of June 1, 2019, will receive a per-hundredweight payment on production history, and hog producers will receive a payment based on the number of live hogs owned on a day selected by the producer between April 1 and May 15, 2019.

MFP payments also will be made to producers of almonds, cranberries, cultivated ginseng, fresh grapes, fresh sweet cherries, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts.

Each specialty crop will receive a payment based on 2019 acres of fruit or nut bearing plants, or in the case of ginseng, based on harvested acres in 2019.

Acreage of non-specialty crops and cover crops must be planted by Aug. 1, 2019 to be considered eligible for MFP payments.

Payment Caps

MFP payments are limited to a combined $250,000 for non-specialty crops per person or legal entity. MFP payments also are limited to a combined $250,000 for dairy and hog producers and a combined $250,000 for specialty crop producers. However, no applicant can receive more than $500,000.

Eligible applicants must also have an average adjusted gross income for tax years 2014, 2015 and 2016 of less than $900,000 or, 75% of the person’s or legal entity’s average AGI for tax years 2014, 2015 and 2016 must have been derived from farming and ranching. Applicants also must comply with the provisions of the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation regulations.

In June, the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 was signed into law by President Donald Trump, requiring a change to the first round of MFP assistance provided in 2018.

Producers previously deemed ineligible for MFP in 2018 because they had an average AGI level higher than $900,000 may now be eligible for 2018 MFP benefits.

Those producers must be able to verify 75% or more of their average AGI was derived from farming and ranching to qualify. This supplemental MFP signup period will run parallel to the 2019 MFP signup, from July 29 through December 6, 2019.

Food Purchases

Additionally, CCC Charter Act authority will be used to implement an up to $1.4 billion Food Purchase and Distribution Program through the Agricultural Marketing Service to purchase surplus commodities affected by trade retaliation such as fruits, vegetables, some processed foods, beef, pork, lamb, poultry and milk for distribution by the Food and Nutrition Service to food banks, schools and other outlets serving low-income individuals.

AMS has coordinated with FNS, industry representatives and other agency partners to determine necessary logistics for the purchase and distribution of each commodity, including trucking, inspection and audit requirements and agency staffing.

The food purchase program includes purchasing $434 million in poultry, $208 million in pork and $151 million in beef.

Tom C. Doran can be reached at 815-780-7894 or tdoran@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow him on Twitter at: @AgNews_Doran.

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