The first installment of the second wave of trade aid from the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) will be making its way to agricultural producers’ pockets soon.

The USDA announced the renewed relief strategy back in May 2019. The goal is to give relief to farmers affected by ongoing trade wars and retaliatory tariffs. A total of up to $14.5 billion is authorized to assist producers hit hardest by trade conflicts. This current program mirrors the effort first launched in July 2018, when a total of $12 billion was made available and mostly distributed through MFP direct payments.

The USDA will begin making the first installment of direct payments in mid-to-late August and additional payments may be given in November and January depending on market conditions and trade opportunities.

In order to be eligible for payments, applicants must have an average adjusted income for tax years 2015-2017 of less than $900,000 or obtain at least 75 percent of their income from farming or ranching. Producers must also follow conservation compliance provisions and have a farm number with the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Non-specialty crops eligible for payments include alfalfa, corn, soybeans, rice, and wheat. Specialty crops include almonds, grapes, cherries, pecans, and walnuts. Eligible livestock includes dairy cattle and hogs.

Payments will be calculated differently based on commodity. Non-specialty crops assistance is based on a single-county payment rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings of MFP-eligible crops in 2019. A producer’s total payment-eligible commodities may not exceed total 2018 plantings.

The payment will be comprised of either 50 percent of a producer’s calculated payment or $15 per acre. County payments will range from $15-150 per acre, depending on each county’s trade retaliation impact. Non-specialty crops must have been planted by Aug. 1, 2019 to be eligible for MFP payments.

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Dairy producers will receive $0.20 per hundredweight based on production history and hog producers will receive $11 per head based on live hogs owned on a date between April 1 and May 15, 2019.

Nut farmers will receive $146 per acre, cherry acres will see a payment of $0.17 per pound per acre, and table grapes will be subsidized $0.03 per pound per acre.

Sign-up for the program began July 29 and will run through Dec. 6. Those interested may sign up online through the FSA. — Anna Miller, WLJ editor

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