As harvest comes to a close, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is busy getting the plan together for the second round of payments through the Market Facilitation Program (MFP). More commonly called “tariff aid payments,” USDA said the expectation is to announce the payment rates for the second round by early December. Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, said he can’t provide exact payment rates yet, as those are still being assessed and calculated.
“We can look and we can see our conditions are fairly similar to what they were in early September as far as tariffs and likely the impact, but we'll run those numbers again,” said Northey. “There is no guarantee that the round 1 number will be the round 2 number, but you can see that conditions are similar.”
Northey said while producers need to go into their local FSA office to sign up and to report production, he said those production numbers only need to be submitted once.
“A producer does not need to come back in again, because they gave us that production number,” said Northey. “We'll just need to put that new number into the formula.”
Northey said the form for MFP is simple, as the agency wanted to make the process as easy as possible for producers.
“We don't want shoe boxes full of production records,” said Northey. “We just want your production numbers. Tell us what those are. Make sure that you're as close as you can be, as we may be spot checking.”
Northey said once a producer has their final production numbers, those will be plugged into a formula, and the payments will be issued to producers quickly.
“We typically cut that check within a couple of weeks; sometimes much shorter than that,” said Northey. “So, we're seeing those checks go out pretty quickly, as well.”
As harvest drags on, enrolling in the program must be done by mid-January. Northey’s home state of Iowa hasn’t escaped the harsh harvest weather. He said he feels for producers still trying to get the crop out of the field, but those farmers still have time to get their production numbers in, as that deadline is May.
“We do have a lot of producers that are waiting until harvest is done to be able to come in,” said Northey. “You sign up when you have your full production, you come into the office once and you're able to both sign up give your production numbers and then don't have to come back in on that.”
Sign-up for MFP ends January 15, 2019. For more information, visit www.farmers.gov/mfp
Related story: Round Two of Tariff Aid Payments Coming Soon