Smith: USDA’s latest trade assistance package will provide $16 billion to help farmers and ranchers across the country. Most of the assistance will be provided through the Market Facilitation Program. USDA will also use some of the funding for the Food Purchase and Distribution Program and the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program. Dave Salmonsen, American Farm Bureau Federation senior director of congressional relations, says the assistance gives farmers some certainty.
Salmonsen: Farmers know they will be getting levels of assistance that will help them through the issues this year of continued trade retaliation, decline in some foreign markets, there’s been weather challenges, there’s been all kinds of things that have really made it tough on agriculture so far this year, along with the continued low commodity prices.
Smith: Payments last year were based on units of production for individual commodities. Hoping to avoid influencing planting decisions, USDA is taking a county-by-county approach for this year’s MFP payments.
Salmonsen: They’ll be per-acre payments based on your county. So, no matter what crops you’re growing, you’ll get the county payment for those different crops, as long as they’re eligible for the program and of course, as long as you sign up. Fundamentally, it’s based on impact from the trade issues.
Smith: Salmonsen says most of the assistance will go straight to farmers, but there will also be some government commodity purchases, as well as more money for the export promotion program. Sign-up for the Market Facilitation Program is open now until December 6. The assistance will come out in up to three stages, with the first payment going out soon.
Salmonsen: USDA has said the money will be sent out in mid- or late August for the beginning, and then probably in November, and then finishing up in January.
Smith: Eligible farmers can sign up for the Market Facilitation Program at www.farmers.gov. Chad Smith, Washington.