AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—Tariffs, issues with trading partners and natural disasters have lowered income for United States farmers and ranchers. On July 25, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, announced details surrounding the $16 billion trade aid package for farmers.
The package, to assist farmers impacted by foreign trade damage and disruption, was first announced in late May. Producer registration opened Monday, July 29 and will continue through Dec. 6.
With prices per acre between $15 and $150, the 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) prices vary depending on the county.
Extension Working to Aid Farmers
“Extension agents and specialists are studying specifics as they become available,” Kelton said. “We will be providing support to farmers through this application process.”
Alabama Extension economist Max Runge said the relief packages are good news for Alabama producers, as well as others across the country.
“With low commodity prices and weather challenges across the country, this will help provide some assistance to our struggling agriculture economy,” Runge, who is the Alabama Extension Farm and Agribusiness Team leader, said. “This trade aid package offers some positive news to our producers.”
Trade Aid Payments
On July 26, the USDA announced values for the Market Facilitation Program MFP payments. The announcement came later in the growing season, as Perdue and USDA officials sought to minimize influence on planting decisions.
Perdue said USDA has worked to develop programs to assist agricultural producers who have been hard-hit by retaliatory tariffs. Perdue’s team at USDA gathered feedback and built on the 2018 aid program to ensure effective relief for farmers.
“Our farmers work hard, are the most productive in the world, and we aim to match their enthusiasm and patriotism as we support them,” Perdue said in a USDA press release.
The package includes three direct payments, with the first expected in mid-to-late August. Two more will follow in November 2019 and early 2020. The bulk of the $16 billion in payments will roll out in August. However, amounts will vary by county.
“The impact will reach beyond the farm gate,” Runge said. “All sectors of the U.S. economy should benefit from these MFP payments.”
Kelton, a member of the Farm and Agribusiness Management Team, said it is important for growers to realize the payments will come in installments.
“If a farmer’s county payment is more than $15 per acre, they will receive 50 percent of the total in the first installment,” she said. “The other half of the payments are on an ‘if conditions warrant a payment’ basis.”
Many commodities have been affected by retaliatory tariffs and market distortions. U.S. commodities are currently being marketed in other arenas. However, extensive entry procedures in China have stalled and slowed the shipment of perishable goods. The delay affects quality and makes the sale of U.S. goods more difficult.
Trade Aid Specifics
The USDA says payments will be made by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) under the authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act to producers of the following crops.
- alfalfa hay
- dried beans
- dry peas
- extra-long staple cotton
- long grain and medium grain rice
- mustard seed
- sesame seed
- small and large chickpeas
- sunflower seed
- temperate japonica rice
- upland cotton
MFP assistance for those non-specialty crops is based on a single county payment rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings of MFP-eligible crops in aggregate in 2019. Those 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.
Contact the Farm and Agribusiness Management team for more information, or for assistance when registering for the 2019 Market Facilitation Program.