USDA details new risk-based farm payment programs

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says farmers can begin signing up for new safety net programs next week established in the 2014 farm bill that replace the much-criticized direct payments with government payouts based on risks farmers face.

Vilsack announced the roll-out of the programs on Thursday, and said farmers can sign up as soon as Sept. 29.

The programs can help farmers protect themselves against price drops and from lower revenue in poor crop years.

Payouts this year could be significant since anticipated record corn and soybean harvests have sent commodity prices plummeting. If farmers lose money in the harvest, the programs will enable them to collect significant government payments.

Vilsack expects farmers will take several months to research their options, talk with advisers and use online calculators to determine their best choices.

The farm bill, signed into law in February, provided $6 million to set up local meetings and for the design of online tools and creation of educational materials for farmers to help them choose which program would be best.

Instead of direct payments, farmers of major row crops — mostly corn, soybeans, wheat and rice — can choose between subsidies that pay out when revenue drops or when prices drop. Cotton and dairy supports were overhauled to similarly pay out when farmers have losses.