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Alfalfa hay, triticale growers eligible for Market Facilitation Program payments

Progressive Forage Editor Dave Natzke Published on 29 July 2019

U.S. alfalfa hay and triticale producers are among those eligible for USDA payments under a program designed to offset the negative financial impacts of ongoing trade and tariff wars. Sign-up for the USDA’s Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments begins July 29 and runs through Dec. 6, 2019, at USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices.

The forage payments are part of the 2019 Trade Mitigation Program (TMP), a $16 billion, three-pronged federal package explained by USDA officials on July 25. The MFP includes $14.5 billion set aside for direct payments to specialty and non-specialty crop producers, dairy and hog farmers.

Another $1.4 billion will go toward federal purchases of surplus agricultural commodities under the Food Purchase and Distribution Program (FPDP) and $100 million is designated for the development of ag export markets under the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP). 

Forage crops added

Unlike a program implemented in 2018, this year’s MFP program includes payments for some forage growers. Another change is that payments for MFP-eligible crops will not be based on flat payments for each crop. Instead, payments will be distributed based on a single-county rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings to crops in aggregate in 2019.

County payment rates range from $15 to $150 per acre and can vary widely within states and between regions. A list of major alfalfa hay-producing counties (randomly selected) and payment rates include:

  • Maricopa County, Arizona – $68 per acre
  • Tulare County, California – $47 per acre
  • Morgan County, Colorado – $21 per acre
  • Jerome County, Idaho – $19 per acre
  • Butler County, Kansas – $48 per acre
  • Stearns County, Minnesota – $44 per ton
  • Beaverhead County, Montana – $15 per acre
  • Holt County, Nebraska – $57 per acre
  • Sierra County, New Mexico – $33 per ton
  • Clinton County, New York – $22 per acre
  • Grant County, North Dakota – $15 per acre
  • Leflore County, Oklahoma – $43 per ton
  • Harney County, Oregon – $15 per acre
  • Bradford County, Pennsylvania – $27 per acre
  • Meade County, South Dakota – $15 per acre
  • Yakima County, Washington – $18 per ton
  • Dane County, Wisconsin – $48 per ton
  • Goshen County, Wyoming – $15 per ton

Per-acre non-specialty crop payment rates for all counties are available on the USDA’s MFP website.

Under MFP, payments will be made to producers of non-specialty crops, including 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.

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. 

MFP payments will be made in three “tranches,” with the first payment set for mid- to late August. The first payment will be comprised of the higher of either 50% of a producer’s calculated payment or $15 per acre.

The USDA will evaluate second and third tranches based on ongoing trade agreement negotiations and market conditions. If second and third tranches are warranted, they will be made in November 2019 and January 2020, respectively. Those payments will be equal to 25% of a producer’s calculated total payment.

Prevent plant acreage, cover crops

Many producers were affected by natural disasters this spring, such as flooding, that kept them out of the field for extended periods of time. Producers who filed a prevented planting claim and planted an FSA-certified cover crop with the potential to be harvested qualify for a $15 per acre payment.

Acreage of non-specialty crops and cover crops must be planted by Aug. 1, 2019, to be considered eligible for MFP payments. Acres that were never planted in 2019 are not eligible for an MFP payment. 

Specialty crops, dairy and hog payments

MFP payments will also be made to producers of specialty crops, including 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.

Dairy farmers will receive 20 cents per hundredweight on the annual milk 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. 

Payment limitations

MFP payments are limited to a combined $250,000 for non-specialty crops per person or legal entity. MFP payments are also 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 (AGI) 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 must also comply with the provisions of the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation regulations.

Contact your local USDA FSA office for more information.  end mark

Dave Natzke
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