WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2015 - Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts is pushing USDA to get the new farm payments out the door to producers. The Farm Service Agency is required- starting this month- to send farmers the payments they’re owed for the 2014 crop year on the new Agriculture Revenue Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs.
In guidance sent out to state and county offices last month, FSA said the ARC and PLC payments would begin moving in mid- to late-October. In a letter to USDA, Roberts, R-Kan., told USDA that farmers are “concerned with the timeliness” of the payments.
The 2014 farm bill, Roberts noted, required the payments to go out by Oct. 1 “or as soon as practicable thereafter.” Despite that mandate, he said, FSA “has yet to announce or begin processing payments to producers for either ARC or PLC.”
In a statement to Agri-Pulse, the department blamed the delay on sequestration, the system of automatic spending cuts required by the 2011 Budget Control Act. The White House is negotiating with congressional Republicans to raise spending limits for fiscal 2016, but for now the sequestration requirement is still in effect.
“USDA plans to begin issuing payments to producers this month in keeping with the Farm Bill’s legal requirements. Unfortunately, much of the uncertainty within these programs is caused by sequestration, which forces USDA to reduce ARC and PLC payments by 6.8 percent,” the department said.
In testimony to the House Agriculture Committee Sept. 15, USDA officials said the ARC and PLC payments would total about $6.5 billion, with most of that going to corn producers who signed up for ARC.
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