Smith: Market Facilitation Program payments are designed to offset financial losses U.S. farmers have suffered as a result of the trade disputes between the U.S. and other countries, especially China. Veronica Nigh, American Farm Bureau economist, says the payments are a big help for farmers dealing with a lot of uncertainty.
Nigh: Our members and all the other farmers and ranchers in the U.S. had until January 15th to sign up for the program, but because the FSA offices were closed, there was a lot of concern that, maybe for those folks for whom harvest was late this year, or for other reasons just hadn’t signed up yet, that they were going to miss the opportunity to participate in this important program.
Smith: The program is designed to help lessen the impact of ongoing trade challenges for farmers.
Nigh: If you’re a soybean grower, a $1.65 per bushel is a pretty significant down payment toward some of the losses you’ve experienced because of the roiling soybean market this year, so certainly, that income will help when folks go into their banker’s office and talk about those operating loans. It would have been a pretty significant program for folks to have been shut out of.
Smith: A lot of USDA operations have been shut down, including Farm Service Agency offices, because of a lack of funding. That makes it difficult for farmers to go to their local offices and get signed up for the program. Consequently, USDA decided to extend the MFP signup deadline.
Nigh: USDA has ceased operations in a lot of important areas and one of those is that the FSA offices have closed, which would have made it difficult for farmers to go in and sign up for this program, as well as other programs. Secretary Perdue said we’re going to go ahead and extend the deadline for the number of days that the FSA offices have been shut down as a result of this lack of spending.
Smith: Chad Smith, Washington.