A new round of payments recently announced by USDA could significantly reduce the financial strain caused by an unprecedented bout of extreme moisture across much of the heartland this year.
Farmers who could not plant a crop this year because of flooding, too much moisture, or other non-drought related reasons will receive extra assistance from the federal crop insurance program. Growers will automatically get a “top-up” on their so-called prevented planting claims of either 10 or 15 percent, depending on their insurance policy. There’s no sign-up period, and checks start going out in mid-October.
“It was a challenging planting season for many of our farmers,” said Bill Northey, USDA’s undersecretary for farm production and conservation. “We are doing everything we can to ensure producers receive the help they need.”
University of Illinois economist Scott Irwin said that the payment “is more generous than even I expected.”
Irwin, in an analysis posted on Twitter, estimated the top-up payment means that farmers who decided to file an insurance claim instead of planting, will get the same amount of federal aid as a farmer who planted and therefore qualifies for the administration’s trade relief package.
Based on Irwin’s calculations, there will be Illinois farmers, for example, who could gross more than $500, or even $600, per acre this year on corn they didn’t plant.
Irwin said that if he were a farmer who planted corn “in the mud” after June 5, rather than going the prevent plant route, “I think I would have a right to be upset about the muddled communication regarding having to plant to get the (market facilitation program) payment coming out of the USDA in late May/early June.”
Theoretically, a farmer who didn’t plant a crop this year could collect money from several different federal programs: crop insurance and the extra top-up, disaster aid authorized by Congress, and trade aid for any cover crops.