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Cotton Payments, Disaster Assistance, and Safety Net Update

By Don Shurley and Yangxuan Liu

Download the PDF version of the factsheet

MFP (Market Facilitation Program) Payments

USDA announced last July that it would act to assist farmers damaged by tariffs and reduced exports.  In September, the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) was initiated and the signup began.  MFP payments are received on actual 2018 production.  The payment rates for crops commonly grown in Georgia are listed below:

Initially, the signup deadline was January 15, 2019 but due to the partial government shutdown that included Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices, the signup deadline was extended to February 14, 2019.  The signup period has now ended.  Before payments can be received, in addition to signing up for MFP, the 2018 production must be certified.  The deadline for certifying production with FSA is May 1, 2019.

A first/initial payment was authorized on half of 2018 production.  If the farm was signed up for MFP and 2018 production has already been certified, the first payment has likely already been received.  A second payment—at the same MFP rate on the other half of production, was announced on December 17, 2018.  If the farm is already signed up and certified the production, the second payment has also been made or should be made shortly.

Producers did not need to sign up again for the second payment.  If the first payment has not been or was not received, one payment for the total amount will be received.  Below is an example for how the payment is calculated. Assuming a farm produced 750,000 lbs or approximately 1,500 running (gin count) bales of upland cotton lint in 2018.

Example First Payment:

Total Certified Production = 750,000 lbs

MFP = 750,000  x  ½  x  $0.06  =  $22,500

Example Second Payment:

Total Certified Production = 750,000 lbs

MFP = 750,000  x  ½  x  $0.06  =  $22,500

Example Total (All In One Payment):

Total Certified Production = 750,000 lbs

MFP = 750,000  x  $0.06  =  $45,000

Unfortunately, MFP payments for cotton will be less than expected.  This is due to crop loss caused by Hurricane Michael and excessive rains and delayed harvest during the entire harvest season that followed.  Prior to Hurricane Michael, USDA projected the Georgia crop at 2.9 million bales or approximately 1.4 billion pounds.  The MFP on that amount would have been approximately $83.5 million.  The latest USDA projection for the Georgia crop is approximately 936 million pounds and MFP of $56.1 million—a 33% reduction.

The limit on MFP payments is $125,000 per person or legal entity for corn, cotton, grain sorghum, soybeans, and wheat combined and applicants must have an AGI of less than $900,000.  The limit on MFP is separate from the limit on ARC/PLC.

Given the relative crop acreages in Georgia and the relatively small payment on corn, on average, the majority of a person or entity’s MFP will be on cotton if the operation grows cotton.  For example, to reach the $125,000 payment limit from cotton only, it would require about 2 million pounds (4,340 USDA 480-lb statistical bales or about 4,183 “running bales” from the gin).  At the state average yield of 693 pounds per acre, this would be equivalent to roughly 3,000 acres of cotton per person or legal entity at that yield.  Had yield been higher as expected (and many producers have said they had a record crop prior to Michael), the limit would have reached the cap at much smaller production and would have been an issue for some producers.

2018 Disaster Assistance

At the time of this is written, there is yet no 2018 disaster relief package but the outlook appears to be improving for having legislation soon.

After months of budget negotiations, disagreements, delays, continuing resolutions, and a partial government shutdown, both the House and Senate passed the final budget package for FY19 on February 14, 2019 and President Trump signed the legislation into law on February 15, 2019.

Unfortunately, although included in earlier budget bills that never fully passed through both House and Senate, 2018 disaster funding was omitted from the February 14 final FY19 legislation.  This means that disaster funds will now come in the form of a separate (supplemental) appropriations bill.

Recently, a bi-partisan group of Senators spearheaded by Senator David Perdue (GA) introduced legislation to the Senate for $13.6 billion in relief efforts including $3 billion for crop-related losses during 2018 due to Hurricanes Michael and Florence and other natural disasters.

Details and the specific workings of the program are unknown and yet to be determined by USDA, should the legislation proceed forward and become law.  From what is known, this Senate legislation seems to closely align with a similar House bill that passed back in January.  Therefore, if the Senate bill passes, it should not be difficult and time-consuming to work out the differences in a conference bill.  President Trump has indicated he will sign disaster legislation when it reaches his desk.  It is hoped that the Senate bill can be considered and passed later this month.

It appears that this legislation for 2018 losses would provide relief through the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) in a similar manner as for 2017 crop losses.  In general, the WHIP payments formula is:

WHIP Payment = WHIP Expected Value – WHIP Harvest Value – Insurance Indemnities

The WHIP Expected Value is based on the crop insurance Actual Production History (APH) for the crop and the coverage level of crop insurance elected for the crop.  A WHIP factor of 70% to 90% is proposed and would be applied to the APH—the higher the insurance coverage level, the higher the WHIP factor.

The WHIP Harvest Value is based on the actual yield.  Insurance Indemnities would be the amount(s) received on the crop.  Efforts are on-going to have the premium paid deducted from this amount.

The idea or concept behind WHIP disaster assistance is to pay the producer something above what crop insurance elected on the farm would pay—to provide an additional amount above what crop insurance is going to pay.  This amount will vary depending on whether the crop was insured or not and, if so, at what coverage level.

Because many producers in Georgia were anticipating a record crop, especially for non-irrigated production, it is realized that because WHIP is based on the farms APH, that any payment received cannot fully compensate for the actual loss.  Any amount of payment is helpful, however.

The following website illustrates an example of how WHIP worked for 2017 crop losses.  The WHIP factors will have to be updated/revised based on how similar legislation would compensate for 2018 losses.  Nevertheless, the illustrated example is useful in understanding the concept.

http://www.cotton.org/econ/govprograms/ag-disaster-asst-programs.cfm

Seed Cotton (SC) Program Update

Seed cotton (SC) became a covered commodity and eligible for ARC (Agricultural Risk Coverage) and PLC (Price Loss Coverage) effective with the 2018 crop—the last year of the 2014 farm bill.  Seed cotton continues as a covered commodity in the new 2018 farm bill.  Payment for both ARC and PLC is received on 85% of the farms seed cotton base acres.

The PLC Payment is the PLC Payment Rate times the established seed cotton payment yield for the farm times 85% of the farms seed cotton base acres.

Currently, the projected seed cotton PLC Payment Rate is 2.9 cents per pound.  This is based on the most recent projections of the 2018 market year average (MYA) price for upland cotton and cottonseed.  The SC MYA Price is a weighted average price (based on production upland cotton and all cottonseed) as shown in the table below.  Currently, the SC MYA Price is projected to be 33.8 cents per pound.  This is subject to change—the marketing year for 2018 cotton does not end until July 31, 2019.

The PLC Reference Price for seed cotton is 36.7 cents per pound.  A PLC payment is received if the SC MYA Price is less than 36.7 cents.  Currently, the SC PLC projects to be 2.9 cents per pound (36.7 – 33.8 = 2.9).

For 2019, producers on a farm must elect ARC or PLC for seed cotton.  The 2019 election will be for the 2019 and 2020 crops.  Starting with the 2021 crop, an election will be made each year for the 2021, 2022, and 2023 crops.  The choice of ARC or PLC is not always clear cut and can be confusing.  In making the decision, the main factors to remember are:

  • PLC payment is triggered by price only.
  • The PLC payment for the crop on a farm will depend on the farms PLC Payment Yield for the crop.
  • ARC is triggered by revenue.
  • An ARC payment depends on county yield, not the farm’s own yield.

How PLC and ARC compare is going to vary and will be specific to the farm because the amount of any PLC payment, and thus how ARC and PLC will compare, will be determined in-part by your own PLC payment yield for your farm.  FSA guidelines for ARC/PLC election and enrollment for the 2019 and 2020 crops have not yet been announced.

Beginning with the 2019 crop (the first year of the new farm bill), the PLC Reference Price will be allowed to “float”.  A PLC Payment will be received if the MYA Price for the crop is less than the “Effective” Reference Price for the crop.  The Effective Reference Price will be the higher of the Statutory Reference Price (36.7 cents, for example for seed cotton) or 85% of the 5-year OA (Olympic Average) MYA Price but not to exceed 115% of the statutory price.

This “Effective Price” also impacts ARC.  In ARC, this Effective Reference Price is used as a substitute for the MYA Price in calculating the Benchmark Price if the MYA Price is lower than the Effective Reference Price.

Seed Cotton ARC/PLC and STAX

Most producers have already made their seed cotton generic base allocation decision and election and enrollment of either ARC or PLC for the 2018 crop.  These decisions had to be made or the producer had to already be on FSA’s list (register) waiting to be serviced by December 7, 2018.

The late timing was such that ARC/PLC election and enrollment for 2018 didn’t have to be made until after the start of the 2018 crop marketing year and near the end of the 2018 growing season.  This turned out to be a good thing because Hurricane Michael resulted in large yield loss in some counties and, as a result, some seed cotton bases switched to ARC rather than PLC—ARC being more likely to have a higher payout than PLC for 2018 in some situations.

For the 2018 crop, a farm could have STAX insurance coverage and also have seed cotton base enrolled in ARC or PLC on the same farm.  We suspect this is because the crop insurance sales closing and premium payment deadlines for 2018 spring planted crops occurred months earlier and prior to ARC/PLC election and enrollment.  The sales closing deadline in Georgia, for example, is February 28th.

Effective with the 2019 crop, if a farm has seed cotton base and if that seed cotton base is enrolled in ARC/PLC, all cotton acres planted on that farm are not eligible for STAX.  This has been a source of confusion and misinformation.  The following website is an excellent source of information provided by the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) and answers many questions related to ARC/PLC and STAX:

https://www.rma.usda.gov/en/News-Room/Frequently-Asked-Questions/2019-STAX-and-Agriculture-Risk-Coverage-and-Price-Loss-Coverage

In summary, if the seed cotton base on a farm is enrolled in ARC/PLC, all cotton acres planted on that farm are ineligible for STAX.  In Georgia, the crop insurance sales closing deadline for spring planted crops like cotton is February 28th.  This is likely going to be before the ARC/PLC enrollment deadline.  If a producer thinks he/she may want to have STAX coverage for the farm, the producer can purchase STAX first (by the sales closing deadline) then still have the option to enroll in ARC/PLC later, prior to the premium due date, and STAX coverage will be cancelled.  (Note: It is expected that STAX coverage can be cancelled but guidelines concerning this are not yet been released by RMA.)  The sales closing date for 2019 spring planted crops has already passed.

The producer must elect ARC or PLC for seed cotton base on the farm.  In 2019, for example, the producer will elect ARC or PLC for seed cotton base for the 2019 and 2020 crops.  Election does not impact the eligibility for STAX.  The producer will then make a separate decision to actually enroll in ARC/PLC for the crop year.  If seed cotton base on the farm is enrolled in ARC/PLC, then the farm is not eligible for STAX.

ARC and STAX are similar as they are both a form of an area revenue guarantee.  STAX is getting a second look mainly in situations where the cotton acres to be planted on a farm are greater than the seed cotton base on that farm or in situations where cotton will be planted and the farm has no seed cotton base.

USDA Trade Assistance Programs: 2019 Impacts on Georgia Producers

by Adam N. Rabinowitz

On July 25, 2019, the USDA announced the 2019 trade assistance payment rates for the Market Facilitation Program. We have published a policy brief that contains the following helpful information:

  • Details of the county based payment rate and potential maximum payments by county for non-specialty crops. Most notably for Georgia this includes producers of cotton, peanuts, corn, soybeans, and wheat.
  • Payment rates for specialty crop products (pecans), dairy, and hogs, including potential payments for each of these products produced in Georgia.
  • Program deadlines, eligibility, and payment limits.

Our estimates are that GA agricultural producers may receive about $341 million in assistance to alleviate negative impacts from retaliatory tariffs.

The full policy brief can be downloaded from the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development through this link:

https://caed.uga.edu/content/dam/caes-subsite/caed/publications/center-reports/MFP2019%20GA%20Impact.pdf

 

The Costs to Agriculture from Recent Trade Disputes: A Georgia Perspective

By Gopinath Munisamy, Yangxuan Liu, and Adam Rabinowitz

Click here to download the PDF version of this blog post.

American agricultural and food producers have been caught in the middle of ongoing trade disputes between the United States and some of its major trade partners. Most trade partners – China, Mexico, Canada, and others – facing tariffs from the United States have chosen to retaliate against American agricultural exports.

Last year, American agriculture lost overseas markets and revenues, some of which have been partly compensated by the Trade Mitigation Programs and exports to new sources. However, as the U.S. – China trade dispute gets reignited in May 2019, American agriculture faces several critical challenges, including 1) whether U.S. agriculture can recover from the original and continued loss of overseas markets; 2) will the tit-for-tat tariffs cloud the prospects for new markets for American agriculture; 3) how can American agriculture compete with its non-agricultural sectors for labor and capital/credit; and 4) whether the recent rise in farm wages and a decline in farm solvency ratios point to farm financial stress.

Munisamy, Liu, Rabinowitz, and Dorfman recently released an article, entitled “The Costs to Agriculture from Recent Trade Disputes: A Georgia Perspective”. This article shares insights on the impact of the ongoing trade disputes on American and Georgia agriculture and on emerging farm financial stress. Detailed discussions on cotton, pecans, peanuts and broiler meat are included in the article. Agricultural and food producers nationwide have faced the direct effects of retaliatory tariffs, but changes in market prices alone may not fully capture the losses seen in crops that Georgia has large national shares in the production of, notably cotton, peanuts, and pecans. The search and adjustment costs for new and smaller markets may be reflected in a weakening local basis and an average national price for compensation will likely understate Georgia’s loss.

Trade issues are compounding the financial stress already present in the agricultural production sector.  Nationally, the farm debt-to-equity ratio forecasted for 2019 is the highest of the past decade. At a time when many Georgia farmers are in tough financial conditions following several hurricanes, macroeconomic factors, especially the appreciation of the U.S. dollar, and a trade war add to the financial pain being felt by many producers. Georgia may actually be in a more vulnerable position than the average for American farmers.

American agriculture appears to be buffeted by uncertain markets for products and inputs, and the marginal damage from the latest round of tariffs is likely to be significantly higher than the historical average. Whether the resolution of trade disputes will restore not only the original market access but also the foregone growth in American exports during the dispute remains an open question.

Market Facilitation Program: What is available to cover my marketing losses from trade tariffs?

By Yangxuan Liu

Download the PDF version of this article. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture releases details about the spending plans for $12 billion in trade aid package for farmers. The main component of the aid package is the Market Facilitation Program (MFP). MFP is authorized under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) and administered by Farm Service Agency (FSA). MFP provides a direct payment to help producers who have been negatively impacted by foreign governments imposing tariffs on U.S. agricultural products.

MFP payment rates will consist of two announced payment rates. The first rate is announced on September 4, 2018 for the first payment rate and applies to 50% of the producer’s 2018 actual harvest production. On or near December 3, 2018, if applicable, the second payment rate will be announced and will apply to the remaining 50% of the producer’s 2018 production. For each commodity covered, USDA has set the first payment rates for the 50% of the producer’s 2018 actual harvested production as follows:

  • Cotton – $.06 per pound, estimate total payments of $277 million
  • Corn – $.01 per bushel, estimated total payments of $96 million
  • Soybeans – $1.65 per bushel, estimated total payments of $3.6 billion
  • Sorghum – $.86 per bushel, estimated total payments of $157 million
  • Wheat – $.14 per bushel, estimated payments of $119 million
  • Hogs – $8 a head, estimated payments of $290 million
  • Milk – $.12 a hundredweight, estimated payments of $127 million

The signup started on Tuesday, September 4, 2018 until Tuesday, January 15, 2019. For cotton producers, you can sign up with FSA now and update later to FSA with your production record, e.g. ginning records.

MFP payments are capped per person or legal entity at a combined $125,000 for corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans and wheat, and another $125,000 for dairy and hogs. This payment cap applies to MFP only. The $125,000 payment cap for Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments is a separate cap. Eligible applicants must have an ownership interest in the commodity, be actively engaged in farming and have an average adjusted gross income (AGI) for tax years 2014, 2015 and 2016 of less than $900,000. Producers will have the option to submit CCC-910’s and report production in person, by mail, or electronically to FSA.

The Impact of China’s Potential Cotton Tariffs on U.S. Cotton Exports

By Yangxuan Liu, John R. C. Robinson, and Don Shurley

On April 4th, 2018, China announced a potential 25 percent increase in import tariffs on major U.S. origin agricultural commodities in retaliation to a series of tariffs proposed by the United States. United States upland cotton is one of the commodities affected by this proposed increase in import tariffs. The export market is an important source of demand for the U.S. cotton industry. The United States is the largest cotton exporting country with around 71.3% of cotton produced in the U.S. exported last year. China is the second largest trading partner with the U.S. for cotton in 2017 and buys 16.7% of the U.S. cotton exports. The total value of cotton exported to China was worth approximately $976 million last year, which is the second highest value among all the other row crops after soybean.

If Chinese tariffs are imposed on U.S. cotton, global cotton suppliers like India, Australia, and Brazil may experience a near-term opportunity to supply more cotton to China. In the short run, the market disruption could be a shock to the U.S. cotton futures market, particularly if hedge fund speculators sell off their long positions. However, the longer-term situation could see more U.S. exports rerouted to other cotton importing countries. This recent history of the change in China’s internal cotton policy suggests a similar reshuffling effect from a bilateral Chinese tariff on imported U.S. cotton. Chinese raw cotton import tariffs would continue to stimulate imports of duty-free yarn from Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Indian subcontinent.

Click here to download the full publication.

China’s Tariff Impact on Georgia Pecan Industry

By Dr. Esendugue Greg Fonsah

The U.S. and Chinese Trade War will have a negative impact on the Georgia pecan industry if not resolved.  The United States produces 80% of the world’s pecans and Georgia remains the number one producer of pecans with a record 50-70% exported to China for almost a decade (Hargreaves, 2013). The high demand for pecans has also triggered a market distortion from the traditional distribution channel (grower-processor-consumer) to direct marketing and sales.  An additional 15% tariff on nuts and fruits will create a major impact to the Georgia pecan industry as it will increase the cost of pecans, thus reducing the quantity exported to China. That would in turn increase domestic quantities since the bulk of Georgia pecans that were destined to China will be floating in the domestic market.  So far, China remains the main market for U.S. pecans although a small quantity goes to India, South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam (Andrew, 2017).   Although the U.S. might successfully look for alternative markets, it will be difficult for these new/emerging markets to absorb the large volume of stock created by the possible reduction in export to China.  With the large pecan production and acreage expansion currently going on, the domestic market might be flooded and eventually dampen prices.

Click here to download the full publication.

The Impacts of Chinese Tariff on Georgia Agriculture

By Yangxuan Liu, Esendugue Greg Fonsah, Levi Russell, Adam N. Rabinowitz, and Don Shurley

The uncertainty in trade policy between China and the U.S. creates concerns among the agricultural community. We recently released an extension publication, named The Impacts of China and United States Trade and Tariff Actions on Georgia Agriculture: the Perspectives of UGA Agricultural Economists. Georgia agriculture produces many of the items targeted by Chinese tariffs, including nuts, fruits, soybean, corn, wheat, sorghum, cotton, pork, beef, and tobacco. The Chinese retaliatory trade tariff on products of U.S. origin would have a negative impact on Georgia’s agriculture and economy. However, the magnitude of the impact of these new tariffs on Georgia’s agricultural industry is unclear.  In this extension publication, we discussed in detail about the Chinese tariff and its potential impact on pecan, cotton, soybean, corn, wheat, sorghum, and livestock industry.

Click here to download the full publication.

 

Tariff Retaliation Already Hitting the Pork and Dairy Industries

by Levi Russell

Recent tariffs imposed on steel and aluminum imports to the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union (EU) have resulted in retaliation in the form of tariffs on a range of U.S. exports to those countries. Incomplete lists can be found here, but the biggest concerns in terms of agricultural trade are Mexican tariffs on pork and cheese.  Mexico is responsible for a significant portion of all U.S. exports of pork (32% in 2017) and cheese (up to 28% annually), but the full effect of these tariffs is currently unknown.

New Mexican tariffs on cheese include a 15% duty on fresh cheese and a 10% duty on shredded or powdered cheeses. These duties increase to 25% and 20%, respectively, after July 5th. The new tariffs on pork include a 20% tariff on all chilled or frozen pork as well as cooked ham and shoulder products and a 15% tariff on pork sausages. The U.S. is still allowed to export pork to Mexico duty free under their 350,000 metric ton quota. However, this limit is only 43% of U.S. pork export volume in 2017 and the U.S. must compete with other exporting countries for this quota. To put it simply, the 350,000 metric ton quota is “first come, first served.”

The higher tariffs will likely have a severe impact on the dairy industry. U.S. Dairy Export Council President and CEO Tom Vilsack has indicated that the tariffs will make it very difficult for the U.S. to compete with other countries for exports to Mexico, putting $391 million worth of exports at risk.

The tariffs on pork will likely be prohibitive, meaning that pork otherwise exported to Mexico will have to find a new home. Wherever that pork is exported, it will likely receive a somewhat lower price. Given the demand-driven markets for pork, chicken, and beef this year (due mostly to significant supply side growth the past few years) make this especially concerning.

The Impacts of China Trade Tariff on Georgia Livestock Industry

By Levi Russell

China implemented a 25 percent increase in import tariffs on United States pork and is expected to increase import tariffs on United States beef products by 25 percent. However, unlike many row crops and other agricultural products, China is not a primary destination for United States meat products. Beef exports to China only resumed recently and there is not yet a significant amount of beef being produced in the United States that is exported to China. In 2017, the United States was the second largest pork producer after China, and the largest pork exporting country (USDA FAS, 2018b). Twenty-two percent of pork produced in the United States enters the export market (USDA FAS, 2018b). From January 2013 to January 2018, the USDA ERS reports that mainland China made up 7.5% of total United States pork exports, coming behind Mexico (29.3%), Japan (25.1%), Canada (10.4%), and South Korea (8.1%). Pork production is mainly concentrated in the Midwest and North Carolina, and Georgia is not in the major pork producing regions. The impact of the tariffs on pork will be minimal on Georgia’s agricultural industry. However, the reductions in pork prices could hurt some of the pork producers in Georgia. For beef and pork (and other meats), the NAFTA trade discussions are a far bigger concern than Chinese tariffs.

Short-term market fluctuations this year in both cattle and hog markets will almost certainly depend much more on rising supplies, domestic consumption, and exports to other countries than on Chinese tariffs. A recent report by the USDA FAS indicates that the reductions in exports to China will mostly be offset by the increases in shipments to Japan, Mexico, and the Philippines. Exports of both pork and beef from the United States are expected to rise this year, in part due to relatively low United States prices (USDA FAS, 2018a).

In the long term, however, these increased tariffs on pork and beef products constitute a missed opportunity, as China is the number one pork-consuming nation in the world. New sources of demand for United States producers are hard to come by and higher tariffs on beef and pork will likely result in increased production in other countries to fulfill China’s growing demand. This will put the United States at a competitive disadvantage in the long term if the tariff increases are put in place on United States beef and pork products.

 

References

USDA FAS. (2018a). Livestock and poultry: world markets and trade. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from https://apps.fas.usda.gov/psdonline/circulars/livestock_poultry.pdf.

USDA FAS. (2018b). Production, Supply and Distribution Database.  Retrieved April 25, 2018 https://apps.fas.usda.gov/psdonline/app/index.html#/app/advQuery