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Published November 07, 2011, 05:33 AM

Farm bills make sizable impacts

FARGO, N.D. — Since 2008, the U.S. farm support program has kicked out a half-billion to a billion dollars every year, depending largely on the size and impact of weather disasters, which have become a regular fixture. That’s significant in that there are only about 34,000 farmers in the state.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

By Mikkel Pates

Agweek Staff Writer

FARGO, N.D. — Since 2008, the U.S. farm support program has kicked out a half-billion to a billion dollars every year, depending largely on the size and impact of weather disasters, which have become a regular fixture. That’s significant in that there are only about 34,000 farmers in the state.

In the past few years, the so-called “countercyclical” programs haven’t been a huge factor, except for some LDPs in durum wheat. Direct payments have continued to go out, despite some exceptional income years — a phenomenon that has become increasingly difficult to justify.

Crop insurance has been the biggest growth area among farm programs. The reason for the increased expenditure is two-fold: 1) crop insurance payments are not limited by so-called “payment limitations” and 2) many crop insurance products are scaled to the value of the crop, and crop values have been going up.

Most heavily used conservation programs are the Environmental Quality Incentive Programs and the Conservation Reserve Program, which is becoming more targeted at protecting highly erodible, at risk land. And then there are disaster programs, triggered by natural disasters that seem to be coming more frequently.

Here are some of the numbers, according to USDA’s Farm Service Agency and the Risk Management Agencies, according to officials and website data. The actual payment of amounts between the two agencies don’t line up exactly for years because FSA is on a fiscal year while RMA is on a calendar year:

FSA pay-outs

(Fiscal year)

- 2008: $609.3 million.

- 2009: $476.1 million.

- 2010: $950.2 million. This includes $293.6 million for a collection of programs including SURE, Livestock Forage Payments, carry-over payments from the 2008 drought, and ELAP (Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish) and LIP (Livestock Indemnity Program) payments, as well as SURE (“Stimulus”) enhancements.

It included $251.2 million for direct and counter-cyclical support payments. There were $154.6 million in grain marketing loans, which usually are paid back. It included $138 million in Loan Deficiency Payments, particularly in the durum program. It also included $102.4 million for Conservation Reserve Program payments, $855,000 for dairy loss payments. There also were $6.5 million in farm storage loan programs and $1.1 million in Emergency Conservation Loan outlays.

- 2011: $659.2 million. This includes $160 million from disaster programs (SURE, LFP, LIP and ELAP); $210 million in DCP; $120 million, marketing loans and LDPs; $98 million in CRP; $31 million in 2009 ACRE payments; $31 .6 million in ACRE programs (2009 crop year); $28.7 million in Crop Assistance Program, which was pushed by Southern states for moisture losses not covered by regular crop programs; and $8 million in farm facility loan programs.

RMA pay-outs

(Calendar year)

- 2008: $847 million, including prevent-plant coverage on 180,000 acres.

- 2009: $458 million, including prevent-plant coverage on 2 million acres.

- 2010: $443 million, with prevented planting on 1.7 million acres.

- 2011: $813 million and growing as of Oct. 31, with a record of 5.6 million acres of prevent-plant in the state on a typical 21 million to 22 million-acre normal planted crop acreage.

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