Unlike last year, row-crop farmers will get payments based on their county, not the specific crop they planted. Former Iowa ag secretary, now an undersecretary with the U.S.D.A., Bill Northey says checks will start going out next month.
“Payments we expect to start mid- to late-August and will be made to three groups of folks,” Northey says. “We have the non-specialty crops, that county payment rate, specialty crops, and then to our dairy and hog producers.” County rates reflect how much money the U.S.D.A. calculated an area lost due to reduced exports and range from 15 to 150 dollars per acre.
U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says the payments are meant to help, but won’t make anyone whole. Perdue says, “President Trump understands that these are the people who are producing and they are the disproportionate bearers of the trade disruption.” Pork and dairy farmers, and producers of specialty crops like fruits and nuts, will be paid separately.
The U.S.D.A. raised the amount a farmer can get from the payouts to $500,000, if they’re eligible for payments in two or three categories. Perdue says it’s all in keeping with President Trump’s promise. “His administration’s not going to stand by while our productive farmers are treated unfairly by countries acting in bad faith,” Perdue says. “These are the men and women, year after year, who put their equity on the line, assume the financial risk, and every time, they plant a new crop and keep going.”
Iowa State University ag economist Chad Hart says the change from the 2018 payment program will eliminate complaints that soybeans got a much bigger payout than corn. “It’s still targeted by crop even though the crop does not directly factor into the mix of how big your payment is,” Hart says. Overall, the government plans to distribute more than 14-billion dollars in aid to farmers and ranchers through the Market Facilitation Program, or MFP. Sign-ups will be taken through December 6th.
(By Gina Cerrentano, KICD, Spencer/Amy Mayer at Iowa Public Radio also contributed to this story.)