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The third wave of trade aid, which was not guaranteed, is on its way.

USDA has issued its third and final installment of the second wave of Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments. The payments were released the first week of February.

Two installments of “MFP 2.0” aid were guaranteed, with the potential for a third installment if warranted by market conditions.

“It’s been a great start to 2020 for American agriculture with the signing of the historic Phase One Deal with China and the signing of U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “While these agreements are welcome news, we must not forget that 2019 was a tough year for farmers as they were the tip of the spear when it came to unfair trade retaliation.”

Third round details

USDA’s Farm Service Agency is releasing payments under the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act.

Non-specialty crops such as alfalfa hay, corn, rice, soybeans, and wheat will receive a payment based on a single county payment rate, multiplied by a farm’s total plantings of MFP-eligible crops in 2019. County rates range from $15-150 per acre, depending on each county’s level of impact.

Dairy producers will receive a per-cwt payment on Dairy Margin Coverage production history, and 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.

Specialty crops such as almonds, grapes, cherries, pecans and walnuts will receive a payment based on 2019 acres of fruit or nut-bearing plants.

Non-specialty crops and cover crops had to be planted by Aug. 1, 2019 to be considered for MFP aid.

Crop and livestock payment rates are currently available at farmers.gov.

MFP background

USDA announced back in May 2019 a second round of relief, MFP 2.0, would be released to help farmers affected by ongoing trade wars and retaliatory tariffs. A total of $16 billion was authorized for aid, which is the estimated impact of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products.

The first round of payments was released in August, the second in November, and now the final round in February.

The first round of payments was either 50 percent of a producer’s calculated payment, or $15 per acre, whichever was higher. The second round of payments was 25 percent of the total payment. MFP payments were limited to a combined $250,000 for non-specialty crops, specialty crops, dairy, or hog producers. No applicant can receive more than $500,000.

Looking forward

At the 2020 American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Austin, TX, Perdue said another MFP program for 2020 was unlikely.

“I've been telling farmers all fall don’t expect a 2020 Market Facilitation Program if we get a deal because you want trade, not aid, and we’re going to get our trade,” Perdue said, according to a DTN report.

“I know it’s been painful, but I’m a farmer, and I’m an optimist, and I think 2020 is going to be better,” he concluded. — Anna Miller, WLJ editor

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