Aid to producers of some 2009 crops was officially finalized by FSA last Friday. The enrollment period for eligible producers starts today and ends Dec. 9.
While some have criticized the aid as it did not cover the breadth of losses that some were expecting, FSA was not trying to make farmers whole, but rather to help them restore some of their lost purchasing power, according to FSA Administrator Jonathan Coppess.
"We had to look at what limited authorities we had to operate as a department and an agency and where the funding could come from," Coppess said in an interview. "To do that, that really kind of boxed us in on what we could do and how much we had to work with."
Beyond that, Coppess said it then became a matter of how to target the aid. For that, he said, "it became a matter of how do we target this where we're seeing two things mainly: One where we were seeing disasters from 2009 and two, where we're hearing and seeing concerns on whether SURE (Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payment) is effectively covering disaster losses that farmers are facing. So with those parameters in mind, that was what we were working with the disaster program."
Coppess stressed the aid won't "cure all or cover all losses or make anybody whole. It's a matter of trying to restore the lost purchasing power farmers had because of 2009 losses."
Eligible producers will have to certify a 5% or greater loss on the aforementioned crops to qualify due to excessive moisture or related conditions on rice, upland cotton, soybeans and sweet potatoes. Payments will be made at a pre-determined per-acre payment rate times area planted to the crop. Producers will initially receive 75% or their CAP payment and once sign up is complete they will receive up to an additional 25%. The predetermined payment rates for the eligible crops are:
- Long grain rice – $31.93 per acre;
- Medium or short grain rice – $52.46 per acre;
- Upland Cotton – $17.70 per acre;
- Soybeans – $15.62 per acre;
- Sweet potatoes – $155.41 per acre.
The general eligibility provisions, payment limits and adjusted gross income limits that apply to FSA programs apply to CAP. No person or legal entity (excluding a joint venture or general partnership), may receive, directly or indirectly, more than $100,000 in CAP benefits. Additionally, CAP payments will be treated as 2009 revenue under the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program.