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The second set of 2019 Market Facilitation Program payments is now scheduled to be released. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the payments will begin the week before Thanksgiving. Producers of Market Facilitation Program-eligible commodities will now be eligible to receive 25 percent of the total payment expected, in addition to the 50 percent they have already received. Registration at USDA-Farm Service Agency offices will be open through Dec. 6.

The Market Facilitation Program is authorized under the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act and administered by the USDA-Farm Service Agency. It’s providing a total of $14.5 billion in direct payments to producers.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson was disappointed that the agency didn’t rectify any of the program’s inequities, nor has it established any mechanisms to ensure fair and stable commodity prices.

“The last six years have been phenomenally difficult for most family farmers and ranchers, as low commodity prices, chronic oversupply and unpredictable weather have made it next to impossible to stay afloat,” he said. “But on top of all that, for the last year and a half, they have had to deal with the added uncertainty and unstable markets generated by President Trump’s trade war against the rest of the world.

“The USDA has taken significant pains to provide support to those affected by the trade war, for which National Farmers Union and its members are grateful. But its execution has been far from perfect. The program has helped farmers in certain counties much more than others, even though those counties have not demonstrated any greater need for assistance. More alarmingly it has provided significant payouts to millionaires and foreign-owned corporations, at the expense of vulnerable small- and mid-sized operations. These flaws are well-documented and widely recognized yet USDA has made no effort to address them.

“Regardless we need more-permanent solutions than this current plan can provide. Even if and when these trade disputes are resolved, farmers will still be coping with the fallout for years to come. We urge the administration to work with Congress to develop policies that will stabilize agricultural markets and guarantee fair farm prices.”

The Market Facilitation Program payments will be made, according to the UDSA, to producers of 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. Assistance for those non-specialty crops is based on a single county payment rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings of Market Facilitation Program-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. County payment rates range from $15 to $150 per acre, depending on the impact of unjustified trade retaliation in that county.

Dairy producers who were in business as of June 1, 2019, will receive a per-hundredweight payment on Dairy Margin Coverage-production history. 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.

Market Facilitation Program payments will also be made to producers of 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.

Acreage of non-specialty crops and cover crops needed to be planted by Aug. 1, 2019, to be considered eligible for payments.

Visit farmers.gov for more information.

This is the second of as many as three rounds of Market Facilitation Program payments. The third round will be evaluated as market conditions and trade opportunities dictate. If conditions warrant, the third round will be made in January 2020. The first round was comprised of the more of either 50 percent of a producer’s calculated payment or $15 per acre, which may reduce potential payments to be made in round three. USDA staff will begin making the second-round payments the week before Thanksgiving.

Market Facilitation Program payments are limited to a combined $250,000 for non-specialty crops per person or legal entity. Payments are also limited to a combined $250,000 for dairy and hog producers, and a combined $250,000 for specialty-crop producers. No applicant can receive more than $500,000. Eligible applicants must also have an average-adjusted gross income for tax years 2015, 2016 and 2017 of less than $900,000 – unless at least 75 percent of the person’s or legal entity’s average-adjusted gross income is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities. Applicants must also comply with the provisions of the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation regulations.

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. Acres that were never planted in 2019 are not eligible for a payment.

Visit www.farmers.gov/mfp for more information.

This article originally ran on agupdate.com.

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