FARE Blog

Food, Agriculture, and Resource Economics

Information on Disaster Assistance Programs

By Adam N. Rabinowitz

Click here for a PDF version of this post.

Last week Hurricane Michael ripped through the heart of Georgia agriculture, devastating the southwest region and destroying a significant amount of our farmers’ hard work.  While government programs can never fully replace the loss, there are a number of resources that are available to help farmers recover from disasters.  Some general tips and good practices include:

  • Collect documentation! Prior to starting any cleanup activity, make sure to take pictures of damage and losses that have occurred.
  • If you have crop insurance, contact your crop insurance agent to report losses or damages. It is important to do this before starting any cleanup activities so that everything can be documented properly.   Furthermore, farmers need to notify their crop insurance agent within 72 hours of discovery of a loss.  Beyond that, farmers should make sure that a signed written notice is provided within 15 days of the loss.
  • If you have noninsured crop disaster assistance or are eligible for other disaster assistance programs, contact the local FSA office. It is important to do this before starting any cleanup activities so that everything can be documented properly and a waiver can be issued prior to cleanup.

Important Disaster Resources

The USDA has a disaster website for Hurricane Michael that can be accessed at: https://www.usda.gov/topics/disaster/storms.  At that link there is information on FEMA and other disaster programs.  There is also a more direct resource related to agriculture that can be accessed at: https://www.farmers.gov/recover.  Some of the disaster assistance programs potentially applicable to hurricane losses include:

More information about each of these programs can be found at the above websites.  In addition, there have been some specific disaster related questions which are answered below.

  • What is the next step(s) after receiving crop damage? (reporting claims, documentation, etc.)

Depending on the program, contact either your crop insurance agent or local FSA office.  Make sure to take pictures of the damage and do not burn any debris.  An adjuster or FSA representative will need to survey the damage, thus it is important to wait before starting any cleanup until this has happened or permission to cleanup has been granted.

Keep in mind certain crop insurance deadlines.  Notice to your crop insurance agent must occur before abandoning a crop within 72 hours of a loss.  A written notice needs to be signed within 15 days of loss.

In addition to documenting the damage and loss, keep track of expenses related to cleanup.  It is advisable to keep records of all activities related to the disaster.

  • Do farmers have to pick the crop (in certain situations)? (requesting an appraisal, pros/cons of picking vs. taking the appraisal)

This is a difficult question that depends on individual circumstances.  Some issues that need to be considered is whether there is any salvage value of the crop and the quality of anything that can still be harvested.  If it is a good crop then it should be harvested.  The farmers crop insurance agent can help make a determination of how to proceed.

  • If you don’t pick the crop, how bad will it hurt the established yield?

If there is crop available to pick and you choose not to then it will count against the loss.

  • What if a farmer has an FSA loan on a structure that was damaged?

Contact the local FSA office immediately to report this damage.

  • What additional disaster relief may become available and when?

After many natural disasters that result in widespread damage there are often additional programs that become available to aid with agricultural losses.  This, however, is not guaranteed and it does take time before they are available as they require a special appropriation from the U.S. Congress and signature of the President.  One such example is the 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) that covered losses from Hurricane Irma that caused widespread damage in September 2017.  Allocation for that program was not made until February 9, 2018 as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.  Sign up for that program did not begin until July 16, 2018.

While a special allocation may not be immediately available, it is important to document losses and to communicate to your legislators in a way that illustrates the impact that Hurricane Michael has had on your farming operation.  This information will help drive policy decisions and additional allocations that may become available.

 

Disclaimer

The information provided in this document is not a specific recommendation.  Producers should make disaster assistance decisions in consultation with their crop insurance agent local Farm Service Agency or other government entity responsible for program administration.

 

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.

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.

 

2018 Farm Bill and Seed Cotton Program Timeline Update

By Don Shurley, Yangxuan Liu and Adam N. Rabinowitz

The legislative process leading to the next farm bill has now begun.  The current 2014 farm bill will end with the 2018 crop year.  On April 18, the House Agriculture Committee approved The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (HR 2).  This was the first step in the legislative process that will lead to the next/new farm bill beginning with the 2019 crop year.

House consideration of the bill is expected this week (week of May 14, 2018).  The Senate Ag Committee has not yet considered it’s version of the new farm bill.  The Senate Ag Committee is expected to consider its version of a new farm bill in late May or possibly sometime in June.  The goal remains to have the new farm bill completed this year.  Debate in both the House and Senate is expected to be contentious, however, where Democrats are opposed to proposed farm bill revisions in the nutrition title.  There is also, as always, likely to be debate on payment limits and payment eligibility.

A factsheet titled House Ag Committee Farm Bill Proposal and Seed Cotton Program FSA Timeline (Click here to download the factsheet) discusses some of the changes in HR 2 compared to the current 2014 farm bill, discusses the remaining farm bill process, and updates to the timeline for the generic base conversion and new seed cotton program.

 

More information can be found at Georgia Agricultural Policy Webpage.

 

The Impacts of China Trade Tariff on Georgia Row Crops

By Yangxuan LiuAdam N. Rabinowitz, and Don Shurley

China announced plans to implement a 25 percent increase in import tariffs on major agricultural commodities from the United States, which includes soybeans, corn and corn products, wheat, sorghum, cotton, and tobacco and tobacco products. The overall United States export value for these agricultural commodities to China are worth around 44.7 billion dollars (USDA FAS, 2018a).

United States agriculture relies on the export markets to absorb its excess supply in order to support domestic agricultural prices. The United States is the largest exporting country for corn, cotton, and sorghum, and the second largest exporting country for soybean and wheat (USDA FAS, 2018b). China is the largest trading partner for United States sorghum and soybean, and the second largest trading partner for cotton (USDA FAS, 2018a). In 2017, China bought 81.4% of the United States sorghum exports, 57.3% of the United States soybean exports, 16.7% of the United States cotton exports, 5.7% of the United States wheat export, and 1.6% of the United States corn export (Table 1).

The Chinese tariffs, if implemented, will increase the United States agricultural prices faced by the Chinese consumers relative to other countries. Thus, it will reduce demand for United States agricultural commodities by Chinese consumers. As a result, the United States needs to find alternative foreign markets to export its excess supply in order to sustain current prices. China is the largest importing country for sorghum and soybean (USDA FAS, 2018b). Developing alternative markets for these commodities might be difficult. Although much of the soybeans going to the European Union typically come from Brazil, the European Union (import 14.8% of soybean traded globally) can serve as an alternative market for United States soybeans. Globally, it is a very competitive supply market for soybeans. China could diversify its suppliers in the long run and purchase more soybeans from Brazil (export 39.8% of soybean traded globally) and Argentina (export 17.0% of soybean traded globally) (USDA FAS, 2018b). In the short run, there will not be enough capacity for these countries to increase their production acres. China will still need to buy American soybeans and sorghum to satisfy their domestic consumption.

China is the third largest importing country for cotton, importing 13.1% of cotton traded globally in 2017 (USDA FAS, 2018b). If the Chinese tariffs on U.S. cotton are put into effect, it might provide a near term opportunity for global cotton suppliers like India, Australia, and Brazil to supply more cotton to China. However, the longer term situation could involve more of a re-routing of U.S. exports to other cotton importing countries, like Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, and India, than a reduction in U.S. cotton production. Recent history of the change in China’s internal cotton policy has shown that the disruptions of Chinese raw cotton imports stimulates the importing of duty free yarn from countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Indian subcontinent (J.R.C. Robinson, personal communication, April 2018; Shurley, 2018).

A study conducted at Purdue University found that the prices of United States soybeans would fall by 2 and 5% under the 10 and 30 percent tariff, respectively (Pack, 2018). Similar effects of price reduction are expected to the other agricultural commodities. The tariff impact on the sorghum price is expected to be larger than the impact on the soybean price, while the impact on the cotton price is expected to be smaller than the impact on the soybean price.

The potential 25 percent increment in tariff for corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans, and wheat could have a negative impact to Georgia’s agricultural industry. Cotton is the largest crop produced in Georgia with more than 1.27 million acres harvested last year, and contributes $794 million to Georgia’s economy (Table 2). Georgia produced 10.6% (2.25 million bales) of the total United States cotton production in 2017, and is the second largest cotton producing state after Texas. It is also the second largest cotton export state after Texas. Last year, Georgia exported $441 million of cotton, of which $26 million of cotton was exported to China (USDA FAS, 2018a). The Chinese tariffs will have a direct impact on the cotton exported from Georgia because tariffs will impact the entire United States cotton market and the prices received by every United States cotton farmer. It will also have an indirect impact through the prices received by Georgia cotton farmers. Even though Georgia does not export corn, sorghum, soybean, and wheat directly to China, the lower price of these commodities due to Chinese tariffs would impact Georgia farmers.

 

References

Pack, D. (Producer). (2018). Study: U.S. soybean production, exports would fall if China imposes tariffs. Purdue University Agriculture News. Retrieved from https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2018/Q1/study-u.s.-soybean-production,-exports-would-fall-if-china-imposes-tariffs.html

Shurley, D. (2018). Shurley on Cotton: More Tariff Talk.  Retrieved from http://www.cottongrower.com/market-analysis/shurley-on-cotton-more-tariff-talk/

USDA FAS. (2018a). Global Agricultural Trade System Online Dataset. Retrieved from: https://apps.fas.usda.gov/gats/default.aspx

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

 

Publication: Surviving the Farm Economy Downturn

by Levi Russell

A new publication entitled “Surviving the Farm Economy Downturn” is now available online free of charge. The publication provides a general farm economy outlook as well as discussions of topics such as risk reduction, cost control, alternative crops, livestock sales during drought, crop insurance, ARC and PLC payment forecasts, stress and suicide, and other issues. Please follow the link below to check out essays on these and other topics:

https://afpc.tamu.edu/extension/resources/downturn-book/

Understanding Your Generic Base Conversion Options With the Seed Cotton Program

by Don Shurley and Adam N. Rabinowitz

We have developed a third publication in a series of fact sheets on the new seed cotton program. Included in this document is a little history of what happened with the 2014 farm bill that led to the development of the seed cotton program.  We provide an example of the decision process and identify things to think about when making the decision.

The PDF can be downloaded here.

MYA Prices and Calculating Payments with the Seed Cotton PLC

by Don Shurley and Adam N. Rabinowitz

This post presents a second fact sheet in a series of publications that briefly explain the basic workings of the new seed cotton program.

Effective with the 2018 crop, “seed cotton” is now a covered commodity under Title I of the 2014 farm bill and eligible for PLC (Price Loss Coverage) payments. For purposes of the legislation, “seed cotton” is unginned upland cotton—a combination of both cotton (lint) and cottonseed.

The linked document discusses:

  • Reference price and payments,
  • Marketing year average prices and how to calculate them,
  • What would have been the past 10 years had the seed cotton program been in place,
  • Payment yields, and
  • A payment calculator

Click on this link to access the factsheet.

 

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018: What Farmers and Landowners Need to Know about Cotton and Generic Base

by Don Shurley and Adam N. Rabinowitz

On the morning of February 9, 2018, the U.S. Congress passed budget legislation that included the designation of seed cotton as a covered commodity under the 2014 farm bill. The President has signed this legislation and it has become law. The document linked below highlights the critical components about the new cotton program and treatment of Generic Base.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018

More information, including a decision aid, will be available soon at http://agecon.uga.edu/extension.