USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey Working to Pull Together Help for Farmers and Ranchers Hurt by Extreme Weather and Retaliatory TariffsTue, 25 Jun 2019 20:04:51 CDT
United States Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey traveled with participants of the Midwestern State Departments of Ag summer meeting that on Tuesday were in Stillwater on campus of Oklahoma State University. He addressed the MASDA summer meeting during lunch at the Wes Watkins International Center and just ahead of that, he spoke with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays about the work the agencies he oversees at the USDA are doing to help producers that are dealing with the exteme amounts of rainfall in multiple states- from Nebraska eastward to Ohio and south into Oklahoma. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“Certainly, a lot of stress around flooding and disaster relief. For a lot of us in the Midwest it’s more prevent plant, stored grain losses - but it’s also the hurricanes in the southeast, it’s wildfires out west” Northey said. “Looking at those pieces we had a disaster bill, a disaster supplemental passed a few weeks ago and we will have about 15 programs that will come out of that. We do have some pieces of the Farm Bill itself, but a lot of the focus is on crop insurance. We’re a few weeks away from having all the announcements out on that and getting sign up started.”
In addition to those programs, Northey also remarked on the Market Facilitation Program, which has been revamped since it was last used to help mitigate farmers’ struggles during these economically challenging times. According to him, MFP payments will be calculated differently than how they were previously done. This year, the formula will consist of only a single payment rate and multiplied with the number of acres you planted this year, regardless of what crop you planted.
“We wanted to create a program that would not influence what you planted,” Northey said explaining how they have attempted to keep producers from making their planting decisions based on what crop would get the largest payout from the program. “This year we’re going to look at what you’ve grown and look at your total acres that you’ve planted. We’re going to have one payment rate for each county. So, your acres times that payment rate will be what you receive as a producer.”
Northey says there are still approximately 20 to 25 million acres still left to plant in the US. Some of those acres will still get planted, he says, but many of them will not due to various reasons preventing producers from either getting their crop in the ground or getting them out. But with hard line cut off dates, some producers are worried about how they will manage to balance the books this year. Northey says the USDA has programs to help alleviate some of that pressure but says no crop insurance or any other program offered can replace the profitability and security of growing and marketing a crop.
“We’ve got some programs to help soften the blow but none of them are as good as raising a good crop for a good price,” he remarked. “So, everybody is going to be short. It’s just a matter of how short are you? But even with coverage, even with billions of dollars going out in crop insurance claims - that’s many less billions than what the crop would have been sold for.
“So, hopefully it will allow producers to plant a crop this next year. But we know we’ve got a lot of folks that are going to be hurting this year.”
Northey will be spending most of Wednesday traveling in eastern Oklahoma- hit hard by flooding- and will have state officials with him as he interacts with producers and landowners dealing with flood waters or the mess left behind by waters that have receded. Among those meeting with Northey in eastern Oklahoma will be Governor Kevin Stitt, State Lawmakers from the area, State Secretary of Ag Blayne Arthur, Oklahoma Conservation Commission Director Trey Lam, USDA Regional Farm Program and Conservation Liasion Jimmy Emmons and more.
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