• Disaster Aid Available through FSA Program

    by Michael Klein | May 19, 2017
    GA.w-Disaster-Aid-via-ECP-170519Lawrence County, AR earlier this month 

    WASHINGTON, DC -- The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) helps farmers repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters by offering financial assistance.  Eligible practices that could be beneficial to many in flooded areas include debris removal from farmland, and grading, shaping, or leveling land.

    To determine if you qualify for assistance, contact your local FSA office as soon as possible. Eligibility may require field inspections before any work is done.

    Go here for more information about the program. 

  • USDA RMA Promotes Practical to Replant Guidance Document

    by Michael Klein | May 19, 2017

    WASHINGTON, DC - In light of recent severe flooding in the mid-South and parts of Louisiana, many growers have questions about Practical to Replant provisions.  USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) is offering guidance in an attempt to clarify the rules and regulations.

    As always, growers should work with their specific agents and consultants to ensure their specific circumstances are being addressed.

    Here is a link to the RMA guidance document.

  • Farm Bill Opinions a Mixed Bag at Event

    by Michael Klein | Apr 03, 2017
    No need for name calling
    GA-Farm Bill Opinions a Mixed Bag at Event-170331

    WASHINGTON, DC – While most of Washington’s agriculture organizations and their memberships throughout rural America are optimistic about farm policy, the future of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the outlook of a strong safety net in the 2018 Farm Bill, recent gatherings here indicate that a resistance effort is brewing.

    American University’s School of International Service hosted a day-long conference, “Farm Bill 2018: Policy, Politics, and Potential” earlier this week to highlight some of the lesser-seen angles surrounding the farm bill. Speakers included a broad range of academics, civil society leaders, producers, policy makers, and the general public on relevant research and rising issues for the next farm bill.

    Kathleen Merrigan, former Deputy Secretary for USDA, drew attention to the agricultural dissenters during her opening remarks that kicked-off the conference. Merrigan encouraged those in attendance not to prejudge USDA Secretary-Designate Perdue. “I am troubled to see the 39,000 signatures on MoveOn.org requesting Senators to vote “nay” on Sonny Perdue,” she said.

    Merrigan added, “If we wish to get anything accomplished in the next farm bill, it is important that those of us in the agriculture industry strive for some level of unity and understanding amongst one another in order to get a [farm bill] written and passed in a timely manner.”

    Topics ranging from the Commodity Title through the Nutrition, Credit, and Research Titles were addressed. Panelists discussing commodity and credit programs laid out what they believed would be the key drivers for changes within the 2018 Farm Bill.

    Carl Zulauf a professor emeritus in agricultural economics at The Ohio State University and contributor to the
    Farmdoc Daily blog said, “I believe commodity prices, 2017 crop revenues, the state of U.S. exports, the federal budget, and President Trump’s agenda will be the determining factors for the next farm bill.”

    Another somewhat contentious panel focused on international trade. “Land grant universities have shifted their focus from farmers and have invested their resources into large companies that supply inputs of production,” claimed Gerardo Otero of Simon Fraser University. “This kind of research in biotechnology has led to global surpluses and now farmers are facing a qualitative issue rather than a quantitative issue. Farmers are producing too many calories and too little nutrition which is causing obesity in developing countries, furthering their struggles to keep up with the modernized world.”

    There was no shortage of opposing viewpoints but ultimately the panels agreed that a unified front will be required to move a strong farm bill forward in 2018.

  • Prevented Planting Update Good for Rice

    by Michael Klein | Nov 23, 2016
    Not that kind of prevent

    GA-Prevented Planting Update Good for Rice-161123

    WASHINGTON, DC -- Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced changes to the agency’s prevented planting rules.  Among the changes, RMA included updated factors for prevented planting coverage for a number of crops, including rice.

    Prevented planting coverage provides farmers with protection if they are unable to plant an insured crop due to adverse weather conditions.  Prevented planting coverage is a useful risk management tool for rice farmers due to the wide variability of precipitation and water availability in rice producing areas.  Prevented planting indemnities help growers by covering a portion of those pre-planting costs generally incurred in preparation for planting the crop. Such as fertilizer, actions taken to ready the field, pesticide, labor, and repairs. The prevented planting factor, which RMA updated, is a percentage of the individual insurance guarantee and varies by crop, and is based on an estimate of pre-planting costs.

    Among the changes is a positive change from a rice farmer’s perspective.  Currently, if rice acreage is prevented from planting the guarantee under insurance is equal to 45 percent of the normal indemnity to account for fewer input costs.  However, under yesterday’s announcement, beginning with the 2017 crop year, the rice prevent planting guarantee will actually increase to 55 percent of the normal indemnity.  This change is to ensure that rice farmers are more properly indemnified for losses associated with a prevent planting situation.

    “We are still absorbing all of the changes but this particular change is positive for rice and worth highlighting,” said Ben Mosely USA Rice vice president of government affairs.

    Mosely said the updates were required to address the recommendations in an Office of the Inspector General’s 2013 report: RMA Controls Over Prevented Planting.  That report led to RMA commissioning a third-party evaluation of prevented planting coverage, which provided recommendations for determining prevented planting factors.

    “USA Rice submitted comments on the recommendations last year supporting more accurately quantifying rice’s coverage factors,” Mosely said.  “We’re pleased with the update.”

  • August 1st Deadline for ARC/PLC Enrollment

    by Deborah Willenborg | Jul 22, 2016
    FSA logo
    WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is reminding all farmers to enroll their farms in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs before the deadline of August 1 to be eligible for 2016 crop year payments.

    Farmers should have already elected to participate in ARC or PLC but will have to annually sign an enrollment contract with their local USDA Farm Service Agency office to receive any program benefits for that year.  ARC and PLC serve as the primary farm safety net tools available for rice farmers replacing counter-cyclical payments following the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.

    Last year, USDA announced that 99 percent of long grain rice farms and 94 percent of medium grain farms elected to participate in the PLC program for the duration of this Farm Bill.

  • USDA Updates USA Rice Farmers on Farm Bill Implementation

    by Lee Brinckley | Dec 10, 2015
    NEW ORLEANS, LA – This morning the Board of Directors for the USA Rice Farmers representing rice farmers from all six rice-growing states heard a number of updates from Brad Karmen, Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs for USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).

    Karmen’s comments were focused on the implementation process of the 2014 Farm Bill, particularly in regard to FSA’s farm programs affecting rice farmers.  Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) election and enrollment process and payment schedules were of interest to farmers.  

    Base acre reallocation was also a hot topic to the USA Rice Farmers.  Karmen said, “Once base acre reallocation was all said and done, we saw about 400,000 additional base acres attributed to rice this year.”

    Blake Gerard, a Missouri rice farmer and chairman of USA Rice Farmers, was pleased to learn more about USDA’s proposed Actively Engaged in Farming rules.

    “We’re glad our Board of Directors had the opportunity to voice concerns and raise questions coming out of each of the six rice states,” he said.  “We’re looking forward to getting some clarity on timing and rules for reconstitution following an in-depth discussion on the potential impacts the proposed rule would have on our operations if it were implemented today.”
  • Highway Bill Promises Reversal of Crop Insurance Cuts

    by Colleen Klem | Dec 03, 2015
    Rep. Mike Conaway receives a Friend of the Rice Industry award from Texas rice farmer Daniel Berglund.
    Rep Conaway & Daniel Berglund
    WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday, language was released by the House and Senate conference committee for the final version of the Highway Bill that would officially repeal cuts to federal crop insurance.

    Last month, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, was passed through the House and Senate with the understanding that a provision significantly cutting funding for federal crop insurance would be fully reversed and that cuts would not be taken from elsewhere within agriculture’s appropriations.  This afternoon the Highway Bill overwhelmingly passed the House; the Senate is expected to consider the bill tonight or early tomorrow.  

    House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) was the champion for the provision’s reversal and helped ensure the language correcting the cuts was safely placed into the final version of the bill.

    USA Rice Vice President of Government Affairs Ben Mosely said, “We’re glad to see that Congress is making good on their commitment to restore full funding to crop insurance as the Farm Bill intended.”  Mosely added, “USA Rice is hopeful that the six-year Highway Bill will be passed soon by Congress and it doesn’t run into any more roadblocks before it’s signed into law.”

    USA Rice opposes measures that would prematurely reopen Farm Bill programs.

  • House Passes 2-year Budget Deal, Promises to Reverse Cuts to Crop Insurance

    by Deborah Willenborg | Oct 29, 2015
    Capitol switchboard overload
     Old-time switchboard
    WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015 which raised the debt ceiling until March 2017 and increased federal spending by $80 billion over two years.  Fortunately for agriculture, the previously reported $3 billion cut to federal crop insurance will be reversed during the Appropriations process later this fall.

    Thanks to hundreds of calls to Capitol Hill this week by the farm sector, 57 Members of the House of Representatives officially pledged to oppose the legislation if the cuts to crop insurance weren’t addressed.  Outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had no choice but to work with other leadership to come to an agreement to secure the bill’s passage.

    USA Rice Vice President of Government Affairs Ben Mosely said, “I’m pleased that the agriculture community around the country was able to successfully coordinate the defense of one of our key safety net programs.  Reopening the Farm Bill at this point would directly go against everything that we stand for.”

    Mosely added, “I’d really like to thank the rice industry for their engagement as 11 of the 57 Members that pledged to stand up for crop insurance also represent rice-growing Congressional Districts.  That participation is a direct effect of the calls our growers made to legislators on Tuesday and Wednesday.”

    The Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015 now heads to the Senate where it will be taken up as early as next week.  Earlier today, Senate Republican leaders also vowed to restore the cuts to crop insurance.  It remains unclear where the $3 billion in offsets will be found.
  • Japan Academics Meet with USA Rice to Discuss Crop Insurance, Farm Programs

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 16, 2015
    Intellectual exchange
    Japan Crop Insurance Mtg
    ARLINGTON, VA -- Farm policy academics from Ibaraki University and Okayama University met with USA Rice Vice President of Government Affairs Ben Mosely and COO Bob Cummings today to discuss current U.S. rice support policies, especially crop insurance.  

    Japan’s Prime Minister Abe is seeking to reform Japan’s rice sector in a bid to reduce costs and bring supply more in line with demand.  Current policies based on direct payments tied to area-restriction programs are not working, and Japan’s government is looking to implement a new insurance-based regime by 2018.  

    Mosely reviewed the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) insurance programs provided under the 2014 Farm Bill and explained new and existing crop insurance policies utilized by rice farmers.

    “It’s clear Japan intends to move away from direct payments, and their farm policy experts were interested in knowing about the U.S. experience following the elimination of direct payments,” said Mosely.  “We had a very informed exchange of views on the pros and cons of the various crop insurance options available to U.S. rice farmers and possible applications to Japan.”  

    USA Rice regularly hosts visiting agricultural specialists from Japan to discuss farm policy issues.