While farmers wait for the second round of the 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments to be announced, lawmakers disagree on the program’s benefits and the need for more payments.
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Congressman Peterson (D-Minn.) detailed several points of the program that he says makes it unfair and inequitable.
“The current program has created winners and losers among neighbors who find themselves facing the same market situations, meaning that some producers may remain viable while others may be forced out of business,” Peterson wrote in the letter.
Among the issues causing heartburn, Peterson points out some certification issues farmers in his district have faced with acres that weren’t certified in 2018 and are ineligible for the program. He also says crop rotations have negatively impacted crop eligibility for some farmers in Minnesota.
Additionally, he noted the forage mix rules within the program that require alfalfa forage mixes be 60% or more alfalfa to qualify. Peterson says dairy farmers have questioned why their payments are based on their established farm program production history, rather than actual production, like other commodities under the program.
He’s not the only lawmaker talking about the program. This week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) reportedly said USDA should discontinue MFP if the U.S. and China reach a trade deal soon, but only if any accord results in a massive increase in trade like President Donald Trump has promised.
On the other hand, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) told Pro Farmer’s Jim Wiesemeyer he would be “stunned” if the second round of MFP payments are not made. He said it’s likely a third round of MFP may be needed depending on trade issues. “Obviously our producers, bankers and creditors would appreciate knowing that cash flow [is coming],” he said.