Market Facilitation Program now open for recipients of trade aid

As of Tuesday, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Facilitation Program (MFP) is providing direct payments to farmers who have been negatively impacted by recently imposed foreign tariffs. To ensure a smooth application process, all producers are encouraged to follow a few recommendations.

MFP sign-up began on Sept. 4, with farmers having until Jan. 15 to apply for payment. The September timeframe was intended for pork and dairy producers who qualify for aid, with crop producers applying later in the fall after harvest to spread out requests and not overload county offices. With payment for crop producers based on total production, crop farmers must wait until after harvest to apply, according to Joe Martin, executive director of Minnesota’s Farm Service Agency.

Martin emphasized that FSA will be able to satisfy all qualifying requests filled during the designated time period so it will be most efficient for crop farmers to apply at the conclusion of harvest.

It is also imperative growers determine the evidence they will keep to prove their production numbers. For crops, examples of evidence include receipts of sale, ledgers of income, deposit slips and more. Farmers will not be required to show evidence when applying, but it is important all evidence is kept in case their farm is randomly selected to prove production.

“Farmers must keep tracks of their bushels accurately and know what type of evidence they are going to keep on the farm because we are going to have a number of spot checks,” Martin said.

Through Jan. 15, farmers can receive payment for 50 percent of their production. A second round of payment for the remaining half is tentatively scheduled for December. However, the timing of a second round, or if it will take place, is still being determined, according to Martin.

“The second payment is still up in the air. It is all going to be dependent on what is happening with trade negotiations until that date,” Martin said.

To be eligible for MFP, farmers must be actively engaged in farming, in compliance with HELC/WC provisions and have an average gross income below $900,000 (based on 2014, 2015 and 2016 tax years). Only corn acres reported for seed or grain are eligible for MFP (corn acres reported for silage/forage are not eligible). MFP payments are capped per person or legal entity at $125,000 for all eligible crop commodities.

Farmers can apply by visiting their county Farm Service Agency office or applying online at www.farmers.gov/MFP.

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