FARE Blog

Food, Agriculture, and Resource Economics

Federal Disaster Aid Package Becomes Law

by Adam N. Rabinowitz

On June 6, 2019, the disaster aid package (officially known as H.R. 2157, “Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, 2019.”) was signed into law.  The bill contains substantial money that will aid Georgia in the recovery from Hurricane Michael, as well as addressing other disasters throughout the U.S. during calendar years 2018 and 2019, including Hurricane Florence, other hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, snowstorms, and wildfires.  I have outlined below key highlights of the legislation directly relevant to Georgia agricultural producers.

  • A total of $3 billion has been allocated to losses of crops (including milk, on-farm stored commodities, crops prevented from planting in 2019, and harvested adulterated wine grapes), trees, bushes, and vines.
  • Block grants will be provided to states for forest restoration, poultry, and livestock losses.
  • Tree assistance payments are to be made to eligible orchardists or nursery tree growers of pecan trees with a tree mortality rate that exceeds 7.5% (adjusted for normal mortality) and is less than 15% (adjusted for normal mortality) for losses incurred from January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018.
  • Not more than $7 million for agricultural producers whose Whole Farm Revenue Protection indemnity payments were reduced following 2018 crop year losses due to state authorized disaster assistance programs.
  • Crops eligible for Federal Crop Insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) are limited to payments not to exceed 90% of the loss for those that obtained either of these policies. For producers that did not obtain available crop insurance or NAP, payments are limited to 70% of the loss.  The expected value of the crop is defined as the greater of the projected price or the harvest price.
  • Additional allocations were made for the Emergency Forest Restoration Program ($480 million), Emergency Conservation Program ($558 million), Emergency Watershed Protection Program ($435 million), and rural community facilities programs ($150 million).

Keep in mind that dollar figures included here are not allocations only for Georgia but are for all producers throughout the nation that are eligible for aid.  It is expected that the crop losses will be managed through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) using the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) in the same fashion as was applied in 2018 for Hurricane Irma, with the exception of the increased payment limits to 90% and 70% for insured and uninsured acres, respectively.  The signup process and payment dates are not known at this time.  More information is forthcoming.

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.

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.