What’s the most pressing deadline?
■ Seed cotton became eligible for Title I Agriculture Risk Coverage/Price Loss Coverage beginning with the 2018 crop. Dec. 7 is the deadline for landowners and producers on farms with generic base acres to make the necessary decisions for this crop year.
The following actions are part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Seed Cotton Program implementation: 1) allocate generic base acres to seed cotton base and other covered commodity base acres; 2) establish/update PLC payment yields for seed cotton; 3) elect either ARC-County or PLC for seed cotton base for the 2018 crop year; and 4) enroll the farm in ARC/PLC for 2018.
The current ARC/ PLC election for seed cotton is expected to be a one-time election for the 2018 crop year, but there is some uncertainty regarding that election if there should be an extension of the current farm bill. The reference price is set at $0.367 per pound. To help producers with their decision, the NCC recently added more decision-making information regarding the Seed Cotton Program on its website at www.cotton.org/econ/govprograms/seed-cotton-program.cfm.
Is there another important deadline ahead?
■ Jan. 15, 2019, is the signup deadline for the Market Facilitation Program – which the Trump Administration recently initiated in response to the damage caused by retaliatory tariffs other countries have placed on numerous agricultural commodities that are reliant on strong export markets. Prior to the MFP announcement, the NCC had worked with USDA in 1) providing data on how the tariffs were affecting cotton producers and other industry segments and 2) offering recommendations on response options and support levels.
The MFP, administered by the Farm Service Agency, will provide payments on cotton, corn, soybeans, sorghum, wheat, dairy and pork. For cotton, the payment rate is 6 cents per pound initially made on 50 percent of a producer’s total 2018 production. This includes both upland and extra-long staple cotton. USDA has indicated that the MFP payments will be available on the remaining 50 percent but has not formally announced if there will be changes to the payment rate.
While signup concludes on Jan. 15, 2019, no payments will be made until a producer has provided FSA with production evidence for the 2018 crop. The MFP payments for cotton, corn, soybeans, sorghum and wheat will be subject to a separate $125,000 per person/entity payment limit, apart from the current $125,000 limit for ARC/PLC payments.
Producers also are subject to current eligibility requirements, including actively engaged and adjusted gross income. Because MFP payments are based on actual harvested production from 2018, USDA is urging producers to apply for the program after the 2018 harvest of an eligible commodity is complete. More program details are at https://bit.ly/2NnFdUD.
Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming magazine page.