WASHINGTON, DC -- On Monday evening, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue clarified existing guidance and provided more details to the 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) and Prevented Planting crop insurance coverage. Secretary Perdue’s statement delivered a clear answer on a universal concern shared amongst farmers and others in the agriculture industry on unplanted acres and MFP payments. Perdue stated on record that unplanted acres will not be eligible for MFP payments, but offered a small reprieve for those farmers able to plant a cover crop after filing for prevented planting.
“USDA is not legally authorized to make Market Facilitation Program payments to producers for acreage that is not planted,” said Perdue. “However, we are exploring legal flexibilities to provide a minimal per acre market facilitation payment to folks who filed prevent plant and chose to plant an MFP-eligible cover crop, with the potential to be harvested and for subsequent use of those cover crops for forage.”
Additionally, clarity has been provided on prevented planting language in the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019. This law affords authority to the Secretary of Agriculture to compensate producers on losses due to prevented planting up to 90 percent; however, USDA notes that farmers shouldn’t expect anything more than a modest adjustment at best due to the finite appropriations.
According to Perdue: “While the authority exists, USDA must operate within finite appropriations limits. It is highly unlikely that the supplemental appropriation will support that level of coverage in addition to crop insurance. Congress appropriated $3.005 billion in assistance for a wide array of losses resulting from disasters throughout 2018 and 2019, requiring USDA to prioritize how it is allocated. The Department plans to provide assistance on prevented planting losses within the confines of our authority.”
to read Secretary Perdue’s statement and for answers to frequently asked questions about the USDA Risk Management Agency’s prevented planting policy and losses resulting from floods.
“While not every question is answered, we’re extremely appreciative of Secretary Perdue for providing this information that helps clear up some of the big questions we’ve had on our minds over the past few weeks,” said Joe Mencer, Arkansas rice farmer and chair of the USA Rice Farmers. “We look forward to USDA releasing additional information on MFP in the coming weeks.”