Farmers have a February 14th deadline to sign up for the USDA’s Market Facilitation Program (MFP) at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.
The program was launched last year to support farmers during the trade war with China and farmers just need to send in a one page form with their signature to be put in the system. They will need proof of their 2018 production by May 1st.
MFP was extended for a month because of the government shutdown, which closed down FSA offices and there’s still a backlog of work because of the shutdown.
Director of the Iowa Farm Service Agency Amanda De Jong says they are trying to let producers know the deadline, “We have been making phone calls this week, getting a hold of folks we know have not been in yet to sign up. We also had post cards drop in the mail last week, so folks have been contacted, we’re just making that last final push to make sure everyone’s had a touch point. And to try to get them in the door by Thursday if they want to be in this game.”
Nearly $8 billion in estimated payments have been provided to more than 864,000 producers. And two-thirds of eligible producers in Iowa have signed up. MFP covers corn, cotton, dairy, hogs, shelled almonds, sorghum, soybeans, fresh sweet cherries, and wheat.
USDA announced a second rounds of payments but producers need to only sign up once for MFP to be eligible for both.
However, there is no 2019 signup for farm programs for the new farm bill just yet, De Jong says farmers can use the visit to FSA to plan ahead, “This is a good time, if you’re already coming in the office, to get your farm records updated. Because we are going to have a 2019 ARC-PLC signup probably later this year. But if you’ve had an ownership change, or if you’re renting a new farm. This is a great time to get those farm records updated and get that off your to-do list.”
The Department of Agriculture announced a listening session for input on 2018 Farm Bill implementation, set for February 26. It wants to hear from the public on the changes to the Farm Service Agency, Natural resources Conservation Service, and Risk Management agency.
USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey says, “We are seeking input from stakeholders on how USDA can streamline and improve program delivery while also enhancing customer service.”