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USDA Announces Major Program Improvements, Investments

Recently, at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced several major developments at the U.S. Department of Agriculture that will benefit farmers, ranchers and producers across the nation.

“At USDA, our goal is to provide all farmers, including new and underserved producers, with the opportunity to receive the assistance they need to continue farming, to build and maintain their competitive-edge, and to access more, new, and better markets,” said Vilsack, who spoke at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention. “Working together we can ensure American agriculture is as resilient as ever and will do so by implementing a holistic approach to emergency assistance, by lowering input costs through investments in domestic fertilizer production, and by promoting competition in agricultural markets.”

Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA continues to make progress in the following areas by:

Assisting producers facing high input costs to access domestic, innovative fertilizer;

Improving risk protection for underserved producers;

Investing in new choices and meat processing capacity for livestock producers; and

Providing relief for producers impacted by disaster and the pandemic.

These programs and efforts are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to lower costs for producers, increase competition and access to market opportunities, and ensure equity in designing and developing programs to help all producers.

USDA will soon begin accepting public comments on environmental and related aspects of 21 potentially viable projects to increase fertilizer production across the United States totaling up to $88 million. These applicants have requested grant funding through the first round of the Department’s newly established Fertilizer Production Expansion Program. Investing in projects to increase fertilizer production will bring production and jobs back to the United States, promote competition and support American goods and services.


Improving Risk Protection

The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters. There is a Congressionally mandated fee waiver for basic coverage for underserved producers. However, a previous set of procedures and regulations created a paperwork burden that stood in the way of many producers taking advantage of the basic coverage option. The recent rule removes barriers and establishes procedures through which an underserved producer with a CCC-860, Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, Beginning and Veteran Farmer or Rancher Certification, on file prior to the applicable NAP application closing date will automatically receive basic coverage for any NAP-eligible crops they plant. Underserved producers on file for 2022 will also receive retroactive basic coverage. Like all other covered producers, underserved producers will still need to file a notice of loss and apply for benefits.


Meat and Poultry Processing

USDA is investing more than $12 million to expand independent meat and poultry processing capacity in Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota.

This is in addition to recent announcements of $74 million in 22 MPPEP projects, $75 million in grants through the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program, $3.9 million in Value Added Producer Grants, and $5.7 million in Food Supply Chain Loan Guarantees, all supporting meat and poultry processing. These programs are a few of the suite of programs facilitating investment in meat and poultry processing.


New Programs

USDA is announcing two new programs that wrap-up and fill remaining gaps in previous natural disaster and pandemic assistance. To be eligible for ERP Phase Two, producers must have suffered a decrease in allowable gross revenue in 2020 or 2021 due to necessary expenses related to losses of eligible crops from a qualifying natural disaster event. Assistance will be primarily to producers of crops that were not covered by Federal Crop Insurance or NAP, since crops covered by Federal Crop Insurance and NAP were included in the assistance under ERP Phase One.

To be eligible for PARP, an agricultural producer must have been in the business of farming during at least part of the 2020 calendar year and had a 15 percent or greater decrease in allowable gross revenue for the 2020 calendar year, as compared to a baseline year.

The ERP Phase 2 and PARP application period is open from January 23, 2023 through June 2, 2023. For more information, producers should contact their local USDA service center or reference the ERP Phase 2 fact sheet, PARP fact sheet, or the ERP Phase Two-PARP Comparison fact sheet.


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