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Alfalfa included in $16 billion aid package to farmers

Published on 04 June 2019

The National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA) recently held a conference call with Class III hay associations, during which members moved that NAFA request alfalfa be included in the USDA aid package as a result of tariff issues. (They asked to be included in the first aid package and were not.) A key element was the need to easily identify alfalfa farmers – NAFA indicated the use of Farm Service Agency (FSA) records would be satisfactory.

Last week, the USDA announced it will take several actions to assist farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation and trade disruption. Specifically, the president authorized the USDA to provide up to $16 billion in programs, which is in line with the estimated impacts of unjustified retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods and other trade disruptions. The aid includes:

  • The Market Facilitation Program (MFP) for 2019, authorized under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and administered by the FSA, will provide $14.5 billion in direct payments to producers.

  • Producers of alfalfa hay, barley, canola, corn, crambe, dry peas, extra-long staple cotton, flaxseed, lentils, long grain and medium grain rice, mustard seed, dried beans, oats, peanuts, rapeseed, safflower, sesame seed, small and large chickpeas, sorghum, soybeans, sunflower seed, temperate japonica rice, upland cotton and wheat

  • Farmers will receive a payment based on a single county rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings to those crops in aggregate in 2019.

  • Those per-acre payments are not dependent on which of those crops are planted in 2019 and, therefore, will not distort planting decisions. Moreover, total payment-eligible plantings cannot exceed total 2018 plantings.

  • Dairy producers will receive a per hundredweight payment on production history, and hog producers will receive a payment based on hog and pig inventory for a later-specified time frame.

  • These payments will help farmers to absorb some of the additional costs of managing disrupted markets, to deal with surplus commodities, and to expand and develop new markets at home and abroad.

  • Payments will be made in up to three tranches, with the second and third tranches evaluated as market conditions and trade opportunities dictate. The first tranche will begin in late July-early August, as soon as practical after FSA crop reporting is completed by July 15. If conditions warrant, the second and third tranches will be made in November and early January.

  • Additionally, CCC Charter Act authority will be used to implement a $1.4 billion Food Purchase and Distribution Program (FPDP) through the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) 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 (FNS) to food banks, schools and other outlets serving low-income individuals.

  • Finally, the CCC will use its Charter Act authority for $100 million to be issued through the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP), administered by the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), to assist in developing new export markets on behalf of producers.

NAFA encourages all alfalfa farmers to contact their local FSA office well before the July 15 crop reporting deadline to determine eligibility for participation in the Market Facilitation Program.  end mark

—From a National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance news release