Farmers are in line for a “top-up” payment of up to 15 percent if they received a prevented-planting indemnity from crop insurers this year due to flooding or excessive rainfall, said the USDA on Thursday.
For the first time since the 2014 farm bill was implemented, the USDA is giving farmers the option of changing enrollment between the insurance-like Agriculture Risk Coverage and the traditionally designed Price Loss Coverage subsidies.
Climate change is expected to lower U.S. corn, soybean, and wheat production and drive up the cost of the federally subsidized crop insurance program. The increase could be as small as 4 percent or as large as 37 percent, depending on how much temperatures rise and whether mitigation efforts are effective, said a USDA report on Monday.
The wettest spring in a quarter-century may lead to the largest crop insurance payout since 2000 to farmers unable to plant corn and soybeans, said a university economist. He spoke ahead of a USDA report today that will project the impact of a cold and rainy spring on this fall’s harvest.
Farmers can expect a deluge of federal payments in the weeks ahead to cushion the effect of farm exports lost to the trade war and plantings washed away by the rainiest spring in a quarter-century, say analysts. "It's probably going to be August" when the biggest shower of payments begins, the multibillion-dollar, stop-gap Market Facilitation Program, according to Agriculture Undersecretary Bill Northey, who oversees farm subsidies.
The USDA expects storm-ravaged farmers to file more than $1 billion in prevented-planting claims for fields they could not plant this year due to heavy rains and flooding, according to press reports.
Some growers may collect three or even four payments on land where they were unable to plant a crop this spring due to persistent rain and flooding, but no one is going to get rich off of it, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday.
The farm safety net offers many strands of support to farmers swamped by a historically slow planting season, but the strands pull in different directions, says associate professor Bradley Lubben, of the University of Nebraska. "The complexity for producer decision-making is compounded," he said, when potential Trump tariff payments and disaster aid are woven into traditional crop subsidies and crop insurance.
The USDA announced a one-time change on Thursday to its rules on harvesting forage and grazing livestock on prevented-planting cropland. The move was meant to assure there will be enough livestock feed this year, particularly for dairy cattle.
Fundamental change in U.S. agricultural and rural policy is "an absolute necessity," said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday in calling for Teddy "Roosevelt-style trust-busting laws to stop monopolization of markets and break up massive agribusinesses." In a position paper, Sanders, pursuing the Democratic nomination for president, endorsed supply management — federal control over farm production — higher minimum prices for major commodities such as grain and milk and a return to a government-owned grain reserve "to alleviate the need for government subsidies and ensure we have a food supply in case of extreme weather events."