USDA offers aid to farmers in ailing markets

Many of the 1.7 million farms enrolled in the Agriculture Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage programs will receive safety net payments due to sagging markets from the 2015 crop year, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The department will be making more than $7 billion in payments between the two programs to farmers, which accounts to more than 10 percent of the department’s projected 2016 net farm income.

Jeanette Smith is the Farm Service Agency county executive director for the northern side of the Shenandoah Valley. She said prior to the 2014 Farm Bill, these payments were made annually to farmers, but now they only come when the market is hurting.

She said the payments are helpful to the farmers, though not necessarily a saving grace.

“It’ll help. It’s not like it’s going to save any of them, but it’ll be enough to cushion a little bit,” she said.

This move follows several cash injections from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to prop up the farm economy, including an $800 million purchase in dairy products to be given to food banks, and another $11 million in payment to dairymen and women through the dairy Margin Protection Program.

Thus far, payments have been made to farmers who enrolled acreage of barley, corn, grain sorghum, lentils, oats, peanuts, dry peas, soybeans, wheat and canola.

More payments are to be announced once the National Agriculture Statistics Service releases data on long and medium grain rice – excluding Japonica rice – oilseeds and chickpeas.

For specific data on payout by crop, visit www.fsa.usda.gov and follow links to the department’s Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com