The U.S. Department of Agriculture made several important announcements in recent days that could affect many Southwest farmers and ranchers.
Late last week USDA announced that nearly half of the farmers who signed up for the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs will receive payments for the 2014 crop year. Some 1.7 million producers signed up for those programs, authorized in the Agriculture Act of 2014.
“Unlike the old direct payments program, which paid farmers in good years and bad, the 2014 Farm Bill authorized a new safety-net that protects producers only when market forces or adverse weather cause unexpected drops in crop prices or revenues,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“For example, the corn price for 2014 is 30 percent below the historical benchmark price used by the ARC-County program, and revenues of the farms participating in the ARC-County program are down by about $20 billion from the benchmark during the same period. The nearly $4 billion provided by the ARC and PLC safety-net programs will give assistance to producers where revenues dropped below normal.”
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The ARC/PLC programs primarily allow producers to continue to produce for the market by making payments on a percentage of historical base production, limiting the impact on production decisions.
Nationwide, 96 percent of soybean farms, 91 percent of corn farms, and 66 percent of wheat farms elected the ARC-County coverage option. Ninety-nine percent of long grain rice and peanut farms, and 94 percent of medium grain rice farms elected the PLC option. Overall, 76 percent of participating farm acres is protected by ARC-County, 23 percent by PLC, and 1 percent by ARC-Individual.
For data about other crops, as well as state-by-state program election results, final PLC price and payment data, and other program information including frequently asked questions, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.
Crops receiving assistance include barley, corn, grain sorghum, lentils, oats, peanuts, dry peas, soybeans, and wheat. In the upcoming months, disbursements will be made for other crops after marketing year average prices are published by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Any disbursements to participants in ARC-County or PLC for long and medium grain rice (except for temperate Japonica rice) will occur in November, for remaining oilseeds and also chickpeas in December, and temperate Japonica rice in early February 2016. ARC-individual payments will begin in November. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity.
The Budget Control Act of 2011, passed by Congress, requires USDA to reduce payments by 6.8 percent. For more information, producers are encouraged to visit their local Farm Service Agency office. To find a local Farm Service Agency office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.
USDA extends NAP deadline
USDA has announced an extension to the deadline for producers to obtain or modify higher levels of coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) to protect against poor forage crop quality because of drought or other natural disasters where the forage is intended for mechanical harvest.
That deadline has been extended to Nov. 13, 2015, says USDA Texas Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, Judith A. Canales.
“For 2016 small grain forage crops, the application deadline for NAP occurred before information became available to measure losses due to quality that could influence loss payments, so we extended the deadline so that producers have more time to decide what type of modified coverage works best for their operation,” said Canales.
NAP protects agricultural crops for which crop insurance is not available from losses due to such natural disasters as drought, freeze, hail, excessive moisture, excessive wind or hurricanes. The program offers basic coverage at 55 percent of the average market price for crop losses exceeding 50 percent of expected production, and higher levels of coverage, up to 65 percent of expected production at 100 percent of the average market price. Higher coverage is not available on grazing crops. The extension does not afford producers the opportunity to purchase basic 50/55 NAP coverage.
Producers interested in adjusting NAP coverage must submit the appropriate paperwork to their local FSA county office before the Nov. 13 deadline. For more details on the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/nap.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 15 counties in Texas and four Oklahoma counties as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by a recent drought.
Texas counties are: Coke, Coleman, Concho, Fisher, Hays, Kent, Mitchell, Nolan, Polk, Runnels, Schleicher, Scurry, Smith, Sterling, Tom Green, and Wood. Atoka, Bryan, Johnson and Pushmataha counties in Oklahoma are designated as primary natural disaster areas.
“Our hearts go out to … farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”
Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Texas also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are: Angelina, Blanco, Borden, Brown, Caldwell, Callahan, Camp, Cherokee, Comal, Crockett, Crosby, Dickens, Fannin, Franklin, Garza, Glasscock, Grayson Gregg, Guadalupe, Hardin, Henderson, Hopkins, Howard, Irion, Jones, Kimble, King, Lamar, Liberty, McCulloch, Menard, Rains, Reagan, Rusk, San Jacinto, Stonewall, Sutton, Taylor, Travis, Trinity, Tyler, Upshur, and Van Zandt.
Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Oklahoma also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are: Carter, Choctaw, Coal, Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain, Marshal, Murray, Pittsburg, and Pontotoc.
All counties listed above were recently designated natural disaster areas making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.
Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include the Emergency Conservation Program, The Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, and the Tree Assistance Program.
Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.