The chairman of the House Agriculture Committee has some concerns about "inequities" in USDA's Market Facilitation Program.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., wrote a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, stating "The current (MFP) has created winners and losers among neighbors who find themselves facing the same market situations, meaning that some producers may remain viable while others may be forced out of business."
Peterson raised several issues with the payments. For instance, farmers are frustrated that acres that were not certified or enrolled in farm programs for 2018 are ineligible for the 2019 MFP. So if a farm recently changed hands and the previous owner of the ground had not participated in farm programs, or the acreage wasn't certified for 2018, then the new farmer cannot receive MFP payments.
Dairy farmers also question why MFP payments were based on established farm production history while crop were based on actual production. The letter noted dairy farmers' actual production is readily available via their milk checks.
While MFP payments are based on lost trade, the program doesn't account for the impact on basis due to trade disruptions, Peterson wrote. The effects of basis are not uniform from county to county and harm some farmers more than others, especially those who were main suppliers to China or are farther away from ports.
If farmers have planted crops ineligible for MFP payments in recent years, their crop rotations may have excluded them from receiving payments.
Forage growers eligibility for MFP hinges on their seed blends. Peterson's letter noted that a seed mix to heavily weighted to grass over alfalfa may not be eligible for payments, but farmers who weighted more heavily towards alfalfa can receive payments.
Some crop and livestock sectors affected by trade disputes or whose markets are impacted by covered crops also still remain on the outside looking and remain ineligible for MFP payments.
Peterson added in his letter to Perdue, "I would encourage you to strongly consider rectifying these situation as you contemplate the next rounds of assistance under the MFP program. I stand ready to work with the Administration on long-term fixes to our commodity safety net."
DTN emailed public affairs staff at the USDA Farm Production and Conservation areas seeking response to issues raised in Peterson's letter. DTN also asked when USDA will make its next announcement on the second tranche of MFP payments. DTN's request fell into a gravitational force so strong no response was capable of breaking the gravitational strength, as if a black hole existed within the data stream from Omaha, Neb., to Washington, D.C., making it impossible for a response to flow in the data stream.
We will continue to try breaking through that gravitational field.
Peterson's full letter can be viewed at https://collinpeterson.house.gov/…
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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