Nearly $60 million paid due to falling commodity prices

Associate Editor

WASHINGTON (Oct. 25, 2016) — Mid-Atlantic farmers enrolled in the USDA’s Agriculture Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage programs have received nearly $60 million in safety net payments due to sinking commodity prices in 2015, federal data show.
Maryland, Virginia and Delaware have received $17.5 million, $34.9 million and $6.9 million respectively, according to Farm Service Agency data released this month.
The payments represent a small chunk of the more than $7 billion in payments the USDA will pay out to participating farmers nationwide, accounting for more than 10 percent of the department’s projected 2016 net farm income.
“These payments will help provide reassurance to America’s farm families, who are standing strong against low commodity prices compounded by unfavorable growing conditions in many parts of the country,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “At USDA, we are standing strong behind them, tapping in to every resource that we have to help.”
Nationwide, this year’s payments are about a 50 percent increase over last year’s 2014 payments, data show. Maryland, Virginia and Delaware received about $2.1 million, $21.7 million and about $5,000 respectively last year for a total of about $23.8 million.
The vast majority of soybean, corn and wheat farms with base acres opted to participating in the ARC-County coverage program.
Payments are made to farms who enrolled in base acres of barley, corn, grain, sorghum, oats, lentils, peanuts, dry peas, soybeans, wheat and canola. Due to changes in the 2014 Farm Bill, the ARC-PLC safety net only doles out money to farms when revenue or crop prices decrease. Before the change, the federal government, issued payments during both weak and strong market conditions.
The changes represent continuing reform to the federal program.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 requires the USDA to reduce 2015 ARC and PLC payments by 6.8 percent, the USDA said.
This year, the USDA has created a one-time cost share program for cotton ginning, purchased about $800 million in excess commodities to be redirected to food banks for those in need and made $11 million in payments to America’s dairy farmers through the Dairy Margin Protection Program, Vilsack said.
The department is also reprogramming Farm Service Agency funds to farmers to expand credit options for farmers and ranchers in need of extra capital, he said.