Program improvements: USDA announces program improvements to help livestock producers
During the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) annual convention on Jan. 9 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will make improvements to major programs, which includes assisting producers facing high costs to access domestic fertilizer, improving risk protection for underserved producers and providing relief for producers impacted by COVID-19 and other disasters while also investing in meat processing capacity.
These efforts come as part of the Biden administration’s commitment to lowering costs, increasing market competition, increasing market access, developing programs to help livestock producers, targeting need-based assistance and reaching those who are eligible.
“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 at the 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,” he continued.
Fertilizer Production Expansion Program
First, USDA announced they will be moving forward with their Fertilizer Production Expansion Program, which is dedicated to increasing the production of American-made fertilizer, increasing competition and combatting price hikes caused by the war in Ukraine.
Previously, on Sept. 30, 2022, USDA opened applications for $500 million in available grants through the program for potential projects to increase fertilizer production in the U.S.
During the AFBF convention, the department announced they will be accepting public comments on 21 of the potential project applications they received, totaling $88 million.
“In response to prior feedback requesting more time for public comment on the environmental and related impact of USDA-funded projects, USDA is seeking comments from the public on questions and projects pertaining to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA),” reads a Jan. 9 USDA press release.
The public comment period will last 30 days, ending on Feb. 8.
USDA is considering production projects in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.
Improving risk protection
“The noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable 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,” reads the press release.
However, previous procedures and regulations made it difficult for producers to take advantage of NAP. Therefore, USDA has created a new rule to remove these barriers.
“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,” states USDA. “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.”
In addition to NAP’s basic-level coverage, producers can also purchase higher levels of coverage by paying a premium, and underserved producers will receive a 50 percent discount on any premiums.
USDA encourages producers interested in applying for NAP coverage for 2023 to contact their local Farm Service Agency office.
Natural disaster and
USDA also announced two new programs to help fill gaps in natural disaster and pandemic assistant programs from previous years – the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) Phase 2 and the Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program (PARP).
“To be eligible for ERP Phase 2, 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,” states USDA. “Assistance will be primarily given to producers of crops 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 1.”
Producers eligible for PARP must have been in the farming industry during at least part of the 2020 calendar year and had a 15 percent or greater decrease in allowable gross revenue during this year.
Application periods for ERP Phase 2 and PARP will open Jan. 23 and end June 2. USDA encourages those interested to contact their local USDA service center.
Lastly, USDA announced they will invest over $12 million to expand independent meat and poultry processing in Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP).
International Food Solutions Inc. of Ohio will be receiving $9,575,250 to help redevelop and expand a vacant building in Cleveland into a place with the capacity to process 60 million pounds of poultry.
USDA notes the expansion will include cold and dry storage, two processing lines and nearly 227 well-paying jobs.
Grower-owned cooperative Michigan Turkey Producers will receive $1,531,204 to help update their hot water system, wastewater treatment facilities and refrigerated trailers, which will allow the plant to double its processing capacity to 10 million turkeys a year.
This additional capacity will also allow Michigan Turkey Producers to provide back-up assistance for other facilities of similar size in neighboring states.
In Minnesota, the company Benson and Turner Foods Inc. will receive $962,954 to build a 6,788-square-foot cattle and hog processing plant on the White Earth Indian Reservation.
“This comes 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 of which support meat and poultry processing,” says USDA. “These programs are a few of the suite of programs facilitating investment in meat and poultry processing.”
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.