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MN Farmers Voice Concerns at Farmfest

Tough growing conditions and trade were all part of the House Agriculture Committee Listening Session at Farmfest on Wednesday. At the beginning of the discussion, farmer-leaders asked for continued bipartisan work on trade. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson responded. “I’ve done what I can to get others to support the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. I’ve had some success. We have a ways to go, but I think it’s going to pass.”

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue addressed the concerns of the validity of USDA data. Perdue said USDA staffers are professionals and facts are facts. “Your complaints aren’t the first time I’ve heard farmers don’t believe what the National Agricultural Statistics Service says,” said Perdue. “What I’ve found by looking at the research is the NASS numbers, in the end, are more likely than what I heard.”

Watch the Farmfest listening session.

Dry Bean Scene

Hear more details on the new USDA Market Facilitation Program, as well as a crop update from the New York Mills, MN area. The Dry Bean Scene on the Red River Farm Network is made possible, in part, by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.

Perdue Promises Trade Assistance as “Quickly as Possible”

While few details are still available, the proposal for USDA’s latest round of Market Facilitation Program payments is currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget. Speaking to reporters in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the trade assistance will go out to farmers as quickly as possible.

“It more than likely won’t be completed in the next two months, but we’re going to move as quickly as we can. We are not revealing details at this point in time.” One reporter asked if the $16 billion would make farmers whole. Perdue said “the purpose is to make them where they’re able to pay their obligations and be able to produce again the following year.”

MFP Details Coming Soon

The details of the new Market Facilitation Program will be released within a matter of days. “I believe people deserve an answer sooner rather than later,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Perdue emphasized the goals of the MFP payments differ from prevented plant coverage. “The Market Facilitation Program is designed for tariff disruptions and we have a safety net in insurance over prevented plant.”

The USDA legal team has determined crops must be planted to be eligible for MFP payments. With the new trade assistance plan, farmers will receive payments based on a county rate and their eligible planted acres in 2019. The formula for the county rates has not been announced, but will be based on the trade impact for the crops grown in the county.

Dry Beans Included in New MFP Program

The new round of trade-related assistance totals $16 billion with $14.5 billion going to Market Facilitation Program payments. Rather than different rates for the various commodities, USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey said farmers will now be paid based on a single county rate. “The team has gone through and looked at the trade damage each county is feeling and we then divide that by the acreage planted within the county and will have a single payment, no matter which of the crops you plant.” This relief strategy is still being reviewed by OMB, but payments will be expedited. “The payments will come out in three different times of the year; we’re looking at a first payment coming out in July or August.” The second payment can be expected in November and the third will come in January. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said payments will likely be front-loaded, coming out shortly after the Farm Service Agency acreage reporting is wrapped up in mid-July. The first tranche of payments are the only ones guaranteed. The second and third tranches will be made if market and trade conditions are warranted.

Department of Agriculture Working on New Trade Mitigation Package

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is in the middle of developing a trade assistance program for farmers. According to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, there are very few details available at the moment. The new trade package is expected to cost between $15 and 20 billion, which is the general calculation of the damage to U.S. farmers due to trade disputes. Direct farmer payments and market development programs will likely be in the package, as they were last time. Some new elements will also be included.