Just in time for the holidays, the USDA has released its second round of Market Facilitation Program 2.0 payments to assist farmers struggling from trade retaliations.

Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments were issued the week before Thanksgiving for producers who received the first round of payments and will continue through Nov. 28.

MFP signup will run through Dec. 6 at local Farm Service Agency offices.

Producers of commodities eligible for the program will now be eligible to receive 25 percent of the total payment expected, in addition to the 50 percent already received from the first payments.

Pushback over plans to delay MFP payments

“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,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

Second round details

Non-specialty crop payments are based on a single county payment rate, multiplied by a farm’s total plantings of MFP-eligible crops in aggregate in 2019. Per-acre payments are not dependent on which of the eligible crops are planted in 2019. Some eligible crops include alfalfa hay, corn, sorghum, soybeans and wheat.

Non-specialty crops must have been planted by Aug. 1, 2019 to be considered eligible for MFP payments.

Specialty crop payments will be made based on 2019 acres of fruit- or nut-bearing plants. Some examples of eligible crops are almonds, cranberries, grapes, sweet cherries, pecans, and walnuts.

Dairy producers will receive per-hundredweight payments based on Dairy Margin Coverage production history. Hog producers will receive a payment based on the number of live hogs owned on a day selected by the producer between April 1 and May 15, 2019.

A producer’s total payment-eligible plantings cannot exceed total 2018 plantings; most county payment rates range from $15-150 per acre depending on how each county was affected by trade retaliation.

Payment rates for non-specialty crops and livestock are available online for individual counties at farmers.gov/MFP under the “How do payments work?” tab.

Aid package background

USDA created this second relief program in May 2019 after the U.S. was hit by more retaliatory trade tariffs from China, which targeted U.S. farmers. The aid package is to amount to up to $16 billion in programs, which is the estimated impact of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods. This trade aid package follows an earlier relief program of the same structure, first announced in July 2018. That program extended up to $12 billion in aid to farmers. Collectively, the two trade programs amount to $28 billion in trade aid.

The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) is authorizing payments of this trade aid program through its Charter Act.

MFP is authorized $14.5 billion in direct payments to producers. The Charter Act is also being used to implement a $1.4 billion food purchase and distribution program through the Agricultural Marketing Service to distribute surplus food to food banks, schools and other outlets.

Up to $100 million is issued to the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program to develop new export markets on behalf of producers.

This is the second MFP payment of up to three payments. The third round of payments will depend on market conditions and trade opportunities. If warranted, a third payment will be made in January 2020. — Anna Miller, WLJ editor

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