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USDA expects to begin 2nd round of MFP payments before Thanksgiving

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The second round of Market Facilitation Program payments is expected to begin the week before Thanksgiving.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to begin making the second round of 2019 Market Facilitation Program payments the week before Thanksgiving to help farmers suffering from trade retaliations by foreign nations. Producers of MFP-eligible commodities will be eligible to receive 25% of the total payment expected in addition to the 50% they already have received from the 2019 MFP.

In a USDA release, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said, “This second tranche of 2019 MFP payments, along with already provided disaster assistance, will give farmers who have had a tough year due to unfair trade retaliation and natural disasters much needed funds in time for Thanksgiving.”

MFP signup at local Farm Services Agency offices runs through Dec. 6. Payments will be made by the FSA under the authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act to producers of alfalfa hay, barley, canola, corn, crambe, dried beans, dry peas, extra-long staple cotton, flaxseed, lentils, long-grain and medium-grain rice, millet, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, rapeseed, rye, safflower, sesame seed, small and large chickpeas, sorghum, soybeans, sunflower seed, temperate japonica rice, triticale, upland cotton and wheat.

MFP assistance for these non-specialty crops is based on a single county payment rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings of MFP-eligible crops in aggregate in 2019. Those per-acre payments are not dependent on which of these crops are planted in 2019.

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A producer’s total payment-eligible plantings cannot exceed total 2018 plantings. County payment rates range from $15 to $150 per acre, depending on the impact of unjustified trade retaliation in that county.

MFP payments also will be made to producers of almonds, cranberries, cultivated ginseng, fresh grapes, fresh sweet cherries, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Each specialty crop will receive a payment based on 2019 acres of fruit or nut bearing plants, or in the case of ginseng, based on harvested acres in 2019.

Acreage of non-specialty crops and cover crops had to be planted by Aug. 1 to be considered eligible for MFP payments. Per-acre non-specialty crop county payment rates, specialty crop payment rates and livestock payment rates are all currently available on www.farmers.gov.

This is the second of up to three rounds of MFP payments. The third one will be evaluated as market conditions and trade opportunities dictate. If conditions warrant, the third tranche will be made in January 2020.

The first comprised the higher of either 50% of a producer’s calculated payment or $15 per acre, which may reduce potential payments to be made in tranche three.

MFP payments are limited to a combined $250,000 for non-specialty crops per person or legal entity. MFP payments also are limited to a combined $250,000 for dairy and hog producers and a combined $250,000 for specialty crop producers. However, no applicant can receive more than $500,000.

Eligible applicants also must have an average adjusted gross income for tax years 2015, 2016 and 2017 of less than $900,000 unless at least 75% of the person’s or legal entity’s AGI is derived from farming, ranching or forestry related activities.

Applicants also must comply with the provisions of the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation regulations.

Many producers were affected by natural disasters this spring, such as flooding, that kept them out of the field for extended periods of time. Producers who filed a prevented planting claim and planted an FSA-certified cover crop, with the potential to be harvested, qualify for a $15 per acre payment. Acres that never were planted in 2019 are not eligible for an MFP payment.

For more information on the MFP, visit www.farmers.gov/mfp or contact your local FSA office, which can be found at www.farmers.gov.