Farmers hurt by low commodity prices could expect more accurately calculated USDA assistance under a new bipartisan Senate bill.
Senate Agriculture Committee members Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced a bill (S.1998) Oct. 24 to change how the existing Agriculture Risk Coverage-County Level program (ARC-CO), a Department of Agriculture-run safety net measure, calculates payments for farmers affected by revenue loss.
ARC-CO, enacted in the 2014 farm bill, gives money to farmers when their crop revenue of a covered commodity is lower than ARC-CO’s guarantee for it.
Under the proposal, payments would be calculated so they reflect what is owed to farmers using data from the county where their farms are located. The 2014 farm bill’s ARC-CO provision solely based payments on the county in which farmers filed for coverage, and not necessarily the county where their farms are located.
Heitkamp successfully petitioned the USDA in 2015 to make the same accuracy adjustment. The new bill, which could be included in the 2018 farm bill, would extend this payment calculation method for five years.
“As I’ve met with producers across our state over the past few months, they have made clear that improvements are necessary to programs like ARC-CO that help our agriculture community get through challenges like drought and low commodity prices,” Heitkamp said.
In May 2016, Ernst and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a letter to then-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting more information regarding the methodology for determining county yields for the ARC-CO program.
The new bill would fulfill Ernst’s initial requests by directing the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to use more widely available Risk Management Agency data to show yield calculations and provide FSA state committees discretion to adjust yield data estimates to mitigate variations among neighboring counties.
“This legislation will work to ensure the data and process used by the Farm Service Agency to determine payments to our farmers are not unfairly affected by state or federal boundaries that have no bearing on a farm’s yield,” Ernst said.
Industry proponents support the bill and the ARC-CO program. Data disparities among counties with similar soils and climates have been problematic, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said.
The bill would “correct this issue going forward,” he said.
The farm bill is an essential tool to guarantee that growers can recover from setbacks and get back into their fields, North Dakota Grain Growers Association President John Weinand said.
Growers are going through tough times due to adverse weather and economic conditions and “deserve the certainty provided by programs like ARC-CO to know they can get support when they need it,” Weinand said.
Heitkamp wants to make sure bills that aim to protect and strengthen the farm safety net are included in the 2018 farm bill. The bill was referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee.
To contact the reporter on this story: Teaganne Finn in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)