Thank you to everyone for taking the time this past month to review and confirm your MPCI crop elections. It was much needed for the agents to get out and see each one of you in person, it always brightens our spirits. Our underwriters will be busy confirming elections and coverages that were tailored to your individual farm. 2020 was a spring with an ever-short window of opportunity to plant which resulted in a close to 3 million acres of prevent plant in North Dakota. The hardest hit region seemed to be the SE with a band extending through Valley City and curving in Grand Forks. By the fall, everyone was busy scraping, ditching, and tiling to put the land in great shape for 2021 planting. With our contracted weather forecaster calling for a dryer than average year over most of our coverage area, this has all put us in early planting possibilities. In review of early planting consequences, if you plant a crop before the initial plant dates (attached as well as in your update booklets) you are still eligible to insure those crops but you will forfeit all replant payments that would be paid under the MPCI policy. Any crop that is damaged to a point that there is less than 90% of your APH potential left due to an insurable cause of loss will require you to reseed those acres under MPCI provisions. If you seeded after the initial plant, have 20 acres or 20% of a unit with a poor stand you must report your loss to the office BEFORE you reseed. In short, planting before the initial plant date makes you ineligible for replant payments but also could trigger a requirement to reseed regardless of payment.
I have also enclosed some highlights of todays press conference from USDA, most notable is the flat $20.00 per acre payment.
I would encourage you all to fully read and as always call your agent for clarification.
CLICK BELOW TO VIEW PLANT DATES & MAXIMUM REPLANT PAYMENTS
- The additional CFAP assistance of $20 per acre for price trigger and flat rate crop producers will be paid beginning in April. FSA will automatically send the CFAP-III payments to producers based on eligible acres paid under CFAP-II without the need for another producer signup. Payments are estimated to total $4.5 billion. For the list of eligible crops, visit farmers.gov/cfap
- The additional assistance required to producers on cattle marketed after April 15 or on breeding stock will be paid beginning in April. FSA will automatically send these payments to producers based on previously approved CFAP-I applications without the need for another producer sign up. Payments are estimated to total $1.1 billion. For information on the payment rate increases, visit farmers.gov/cfap
- Congress was very prescriptive in the two payments above and USDA had little discretion on how to administer them, thus the fairly quick and easy payment process announced.
- Producers will be pleased with the contours of the program, but some may be squeezed by USDA’s decision to put the CFAP-III payments above under the same pay limits that CFAP-II (price trigger and flat rate crops) and CFAP-I (livestock) payments were subject to.
- USDA says it will finalize “routine decisions” and “minor formula adjustments” on applications and begin processing payment for certain applications filed as part of the CFAP Additional Assistance Program — i.e., the program that the Trump Administration announced on January 15 but which the Biden Administration froze pending a review — including
- For row crop producers with non-APH insurance policy, the use of 100 percent of 2019 ARC-CO benchmark yield in calculating payments; and
- For sale commodity producers, the use of crop insurance, NAP, and WHIP Plus payments to calculate receipts, as required under the law;
- However, USDA says that additional payments to swine and contract producers under CFAP Additional Assistance Program remain on hold and are likely to require modification, though FSA will continue to accept producer applications.
- Swine and contract producers who read the benefits they would have received under the January 19 final rule issued by FSA will be disappointed by the further wait and uncertainty.
- USDA will use $6 billion from the December appropriations bill that authorized further CFAP payments plus de-obligated money under CCC to provide additional assistance, including for, among other things:
- Dairy farmers through dairy donation program or other means;
- Livestock and poultry producers forced to depopulate herds;
- Biofuels producers;
- Specialty crops, beginning farmers, local, urban, and organic farms (including costs of organic certification);
- PPE for food and farm workers and specialty crop and seafood producers, processors, and distributors;
- Improving food supply chain, including meat and poultry operations to facilitate interstate shipment;
- Infrastructure to support donation and distribution of perishable commodities;
- USDA will use $500 million to fund existing programs, including:
- $100 million for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
- $75 million for the Farmers Opportunities Training and Outreach program
- $100 million for Local Agricultural Marketing Program
- $75 million for nutrition incentive program
- $20 million for APHIS
- $20 million for ARS to work with Texas A&M
- $28 million for NIFA
- $80 million for textile mills through Economic Adjustment Assistance for Textile Mills program
- CFAP-2 sign up is also extended for 60 days, beginning April 5, in order to conduct outreach to socially disadvantaged.
Overall, there are certainly some things to like in this package (i.e. USDA will be getting payments out the door with little administrative burden on county offices) while in some other areas there are further delays and possibly some details that fall short of producer hopes and expectations. But, keep in mind that many details are still subject to rule-making so we can and will be working to make sure things are done right and as fairly as possible.