Farmers and Ranchers Affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma Granted Extra Time, Procedures, to Document and Claim Disaster Losses

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2017 – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced special procedures to assist producers who lost crops or livestock or had other damage to their farms or ranches as a result of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Also, because of the severe and widespread damage caused by the hurricanes, USDA will provide additional flexibility to assist farm loan borrowers.

“The impact is shocking and will be felt for many months,” said Secretary Perdue. “In addition to efforts being made on the ground to assist producers, we have taken a hard look at our regular reporting requirements and adjusted them so producers can take care of pressing needs first and mostly deal with documentation and claims later.  President Trump’s directive is to help people first and deal with paperwork second.  And that’s what USDA is doing.”

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), is authorizing emergency procedures on a case-by-case basis to assist impacted borrowers, livestock owners, contract growers, and other producers. The measures announced today apply only to counties impacted by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-determined tropical storm, typhoon, or hurricane, including Harvey and Irma that have received a primary Presidential Disaster Declaration and those counties contiguous to such designated counties.

Financially stressed FSA farm loan borrowers affected by the hurricanes who have received primary loan servicing applications may be eligible for 60 day extensions.  Full details are available at https://go.usa.gov/xRe8V.

A more complete listing of all of the special farm program provisions is posted at https://go.usa.gov/xRe8p.

Among the actions announced today are lengthened deadlines for certain provisions under the Marketing Assistance Loan (MAL) program, the Farm Storage Facility Loan Program (FSFL), and the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), the Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP), the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP).  Emergency grazing may also be authorized under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for up to 60 days.

In addition, the deadlines to file a loss for the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP) are extended, and special provisions are provided for “acceptable proof of livestock death and inventory for livestock losses.”

Farmers and ranchers affected by the hurricanes are urged to keep thorough records of all losses, including livestock death losses, as well as expenses for such things as feed purchases and other extraordinary costs because of lost supplies and or increased transportation costs.

Producers with coverage through USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) administered federal crop insurance program should contact their crop insurance agent for issues regarding filing claims. Those who purchased crop insurance will be paid for covered losses. Producers should report crop damage within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days. The Approved Insurance Providers (AIP), loss adjusters and agents are experienced and well trained in handling these types of events.  For more information see https://www.rma.usda.gov/news/stormdisaster.html.

As part of its commitment to delivering excellent customer service, RMA is working closely with AIPs that sell and service crop insurance policies to ensure enough loss adjusters will be available to process claims in the affected areas as quickly as possible.

In anticipation of flooding due to Hurricane Harvey, RMA took several proactive steps to ensure the efficient and reliable delivery of the crop insurance program.   RMA authorized the use of emergency loss adjustment procedures to streamline certain loss determinations on specific crops and accelerated the adjustment of losses and issuance of indemnity payments to policyholders in all Texas and Louisiana counties impacted by Hurricane Harvey. RMA is reviewing the need for additional measures in response to Hurricane Irma.

USDA encourages all farmers and ranchers to contact their crop insurance agents and their local FSA office, as applicable, to report damages to crops or livestock loss. To find the FSA office nearest you, please visit https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.  Additional resources to help farmers and ranchers deal with flooding and other damage may be found at www.usda.gov/disaster.

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Rogers Testifies to U.S. Senate Ag Committee that Peanut Provisions in Farm Bill Work

Meredith McNair Rogers, a more than 20-year veteran farmer from Camilla, Georgia, testifies today before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Meredith McNair Rogers, a more than 20-year veteran farmer from Camilla, Georgia, testifies today before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Meredith McNair Rogers, a more than 20-year veteran farmer from Camilla, Georgia, testified today before the Senate Agriculture Committee that the peanut provisions included in the 2014 Farm Bill and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program work for farmers and consumers – and must be preserved in the next farm bill.

In her testimony, Rogers, who testified on behalf of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, said, “[Congress] provided a program that pushed our industry to market our products more efficiently in the domestic and export markets.” It is a common-sense and market-based solution offering farmers a price floor that promotes stability and access to lending amidst market uncertainty.

Rogers testified before the full Senate Agriculture Committee at today’s hearing, “Commodities, Credit, and Crop Insurance: Perspectives on Risk Management Tools and Trends for the 2018 Farm Bill,” on behalf of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation.

As Rogers stated in her testimony, The Federation supports maintaining the current PLC program in the 2014 Farm Bill including the following key provisions:

  • Current Reference Price for Peanuts
  • Separate Peanut Payment Limit (as established in the 2002 Farm Bill)
  • Storage and Handling Provisions

Citing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s projection that net farm income in the U.S. for 2017 will hit $62.3 billion – a 49.6 percent decline since 2013 – Rogers affirmed the value that the PLC program provides for farmers in her community. “If the PLC program had not been in place, I am afraid many farms in the Southeast would no longer exist.”

Rogers also noted that the downturn in the farm economy over the last three years comes at a time when demand for peanuts outpaces supply, as evident by early reports of contract prices for the 2017 crop that range from $475-$550/ton. “Shellers would not be offering these types of contracts unless signals from manufacturers and exporters clearly indicate that they need more peanuts for the marketplace,” Rogers said. “These actions are not being driven by the 2014 Farm bill but instead by the markets and the rules of supply and demand.”

“The bill continues to assure consumers a safe, affordable food supply,” Rogers stated. In addition, the system in place ensures stability in times of both prosperity and times of economic downturn, which enables farmers like Rogers to continue producing the peanuts that people around the world know and love.

For more information and a copy of the complete testimony provided by Rogers visit, www.southernpeanutfarmers.org.

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The Southern Peanut Farmers Federation is comprised of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, the Florida Peanut Producers Association, the Georgia Peanut Commission and the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association.

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19th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference

The theme for the 19th annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference theme is Navigating the Marketplace and this marks the 10th year in a row for ZimmComm New Media to attend and populate the conference blog for this great group of farmers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

This is the second year the event has been held at the Sandestin Resort on Florida’s emerald coast. There is lots of farm bill talk going on here with Reps. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Austin Scott (R-GA) on the program and we’ll learn more about what’s behind the “Peanut Program Works” campaign.

Check out the conference blog at http://southernpeanutfarmers.org/blog.

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July/August 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer

The July/August 2017 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer is now available online.
Click here!

julyaug_2017cvrThis issues features:

  • Southern Peanut Farmers Federation launches ‘Peanut Program Works’ website
  • Florida Peanut Advisory Council makes historic vote for checkoff funds
  • Harvest Guidebook
  • Industry awards at USA Peanut Congress
  • Farm Bill Listening Session held in Florida
  • Check off reports from the state grower
    organizations
  • Washington Update
  • Southern Peanut Growers Update
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Southern Peanut Farmers Federation launches ‘Peanut Program Works’ website and video

IMG_7122_300dpiDOTHAN, Ala. – The Southern Peanut Farmers Federation today launched a campaign website, www.PeanutProgramWorks.com, and video to showcase the benefits of the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program in the 2014 Farm Bill and highlight its importance to farmers, their families and communities. The website, through a series of farmer profiles, an informational video and fact points, demonstrates how so many peanut farmers rely on the stability brought to their market through the PLC program, which is known as the Peanut Program, and why it must be retained in the upcoming Farm Bill.

“The Peanut Program works,” said Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission and member of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation. “It creates stability giving farmers the ability to secure loans, contract with shellers, buy from chemical and feed companies, and invest in farm capital equipment.”

The Peanut Program has given farmers like Michael Davis, a sixth-generation farmer from Graceville, Florida, the reassurance they need to continue farming. “The Peanut Program serves as an important backstop allowing us to plan for the long term. Without the Peanut Program, I believe that one-third of the farmers I know would go out of business, which would dramatically impact our communities.”

Through the website, SPFF aims to educate policymakers, farmers and the agriculture community about why the Peanut Program must be retained in the upcoming Farm Bill. The Peanut Program is a sound, market-based solution that offers farmers a necessary price floor to support continued stability and access to lending, regardless of what is happening in the larger market. The program also helps to meet the ever-increasing demand for peanuts both domestically and internationally. Peanuts have seen continued per capita consumption growth for years, jumping from 6.60 pounds per capita to 7.41 between 2012 and 2016.[i]

Caleb Bristow, executive director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, said: “In the supply chain for peanuts, what’s good for farmers is good for consumers. Changing the Peanut Program would have detrimental consequences for not only family-run farms like mine and rural communities across the southeast, but it would threaten the availability of a healthy and nutritious energy source for billions of peanut lovers around the world.”

Peanut Program Works’ main message directly combats the attempts by the Florida Peanut Federation to drastically lower reference prices and destabilize a program that works for peanut farmers, their families and their surrounding communities.

Don Koehler, executive director of the Georgia Peanut Commission and a member of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, said that the policy advocated by the FPF would benefit only a small number of their members at the expense of peanut farmers throughout the Southeast.

“The fact is the Florida Peanut Federation would undermine the market-based Peanut Program that works for peanut farmers, our families and our communities by pushing to dramatically lower the reference price and championing a self-serving effort on behalf of a few farmers who want to arbitrarily declare peanut base – a move that would put farmers in our community out of business and wreak chaos in the marketplace,” Koehler said.

“Peanuts aren’t publicly traded on the futures market so the price of peanuts isn’t set until well after the peanuts are planted, and we’ve sunk big money into our crop. In order to meet the growing global demand for peanuts, farmers need a system in place that provides stability over time. And fortunately, we have one,” said Mike Jordan, a Jackson County, Florida farmer.

The website, which was launched while the peanut industry was meeting at the 21st Annual USA Peanut Congress, urges and equips users to take initial steps towards understanding the Peanut Program and its sustained benefits, as well as the unreasoned claims made against it. Protect the Peanut Program that helps protect us—visit www.PeanutProgramWorks.com to learn more.

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[i] Source: USDA Peanut Stocks and Processing report; excludes peanut oil

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Southern Peanut Farmers Federation applauds U.S. House Ag Committee Listening Session

2017_fblisteningsessionfla_084sGAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Southern Peanut Farmers Federation today applauded U.S. House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway and the other members of the committee who held a listening session today about the 2018 Farm Bill.

“I’m pleased Chairman Conaway was in Florida today and wanted to hear directly from peanut farmers,” said Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission and member of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation. “The Peanut Program works. It’s a market-based program that brings stability to peanut farmers, our families and our communities. I was pleased to be able to share with the Chairman and Members of his committee, including those from the Georgia delegation, Congressmen Scott, Allen and Bishop, how the program helps farmers secure loans that allows us to plan for the long haul.”

Joining Morris at the listening session were:

  • Don Koehler, Executive Director, Georgia Peanut Commission
  • Gerald Long, President, Georgia Farm Bureau
  • Will Ellis, Peanut Grower and owner of Jeff Davis Peanut Buying Point
  • Larry Ford, Peanut Grower
  • Ken Barton, Peanut Grower and Executive Director of the Florida Peanut Producers Association
  • Caleb Bristow, Executive Director, Alabama Peanut Producers Association

Ken Barton, executive director of the Florida Peanut Producers Association, said the listening session was an ideal format for members of the Agriculture Committee to be in Florida and understand how the Peanut Program works to support farmers and communities. “I’m especially grateful to our Florida delegation, Congressmen Dunn and Yoho for hosting today’s event. While citrus is bigger than peanuts in Florida, our delegation understands how important the Peanut Program is to Florida’s economy. Today was a good opportunity to discuss how a fair reference price brings certainty to farming – both when demand is high, like it is currently, and during times of economic downturn.”

The Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program, which was included in the 2014 Farm Bill, works for farmers and consumers. It is a common-sense and market-based solution offering farmers a price floor that promotes constancy and access to lending amidst market uncertainty. Since peanut reference prices are set by the Farm Bill and applied for a full five years, the system in place ensures stability in times of both prosperity and times of economic downturn. This underscores why a realistic reference price is paramount. The market-based Peanut Program serves as an important backstop to secure loans. Without the certainty the peanut program brings to peanut farmers, banks would not extend loans – putting many peanut farmers out of business.

“Congress needs to maintain the reference price in the 2018 Farm Bill,” said Larry Ford, a peanut farmer from Greenwood, Florida. “The old adage: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is true when it comes to the Peanut Program. When demand for peanuts is high, the program doesn’t cost the government pennies on the dollar, yet the program still delivers on the certainty we need to secure loans. And when the economy takes a downturn, the Peanut Program can serve as a lifeline to keep us from going bankrupt.”

Demand for peanuts is currently on the rise and exceeds supply as interest in the health benefits of peanuts continues to grow. Peanuts have seen continued per capita consumption growth for years, jumping from 6.60 pounds per capita to 7.41 between 2012 and 2016.[i] This means that market prices are expected to increase and Peanut Program support to farmers, and cost to the government, will be minimal.

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Click here to watch the archived listening session.


[i] Source: USDA Peanut Stocks and Processing report; excludes peanut oil

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Mike Conaway, Ted Yoho and Neal Dunn: Input from the field needed for farm bill

Take a step back and listen.

That’s important advice to anyone working in Washington, but especially to those of us fortunate enough to represent our friends and neighbors in the halls of Congress.

And nowhere does that ring clearer than within the agricultural community. With less than 2 percent of Americans directly involved in production agriculture, the few caretakers of our land and natural resources are a critical source of knowledge about what is and isn’t working in U.S. agricultural policy.

President Eisenhower said it best, ”… farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” You need to get in the field and hear from those who know.

That’s why on Saturday, we’re trading in our suits and ties for jeans and boots to join several other members of the House Agriculture Committee for a listening session with the farmers, ranchers and stakeholders throughout the region who have a vested interest in the next farm bill.

We don’t need to tell Florida farmers and ranchers that times have been tough. With net farm income dropping by 50 percent over the past four years, the agricultural economy has experienced the largest four-year percentage drop since the Great Depression. Now, more than ever, we need a farm bill to address the concerns facing production agriculture and all of rural America.

So we’re looking to Florida and its neighbors for help

Writing the farm bill is a big task, with a lot of moving parts — and it’s vitally important we get the policy right. The bill includes the risk management tools that are critical to helping farmers and ranchers endure tough economic times. It includes voluntary, incentive-based assistance to aid farmers in conserving and improving our water, air and wildlife habitat. It supports research to ensure that our farmers and ranchers are able to produce more with less. And it includes vital nutrition assistance for our most vulnerable citizens.

We’ve eliminated planting restrictions — farmers can grow whatever the market demands, including nutritious fruits and vegetables. There are now more than 100 crops — including virtually all specialty crops — that are eligible for federal crop insurance, something vitally important to Florida. And, we’ve vastly increased our support for specialty crop research through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative.

These policies are essential to maintaining the vibrant agricultural economy Florida has come to depend upon. Florida provides the country with an abundance of products, including fruits, vegetables, peanuts, sugarcane, cotton and nursery products. The state leads the nation in the production of oranges, ranks second in vegetable production and Florida’s beef cattle industry is among the oldest and largest in the country. It is also the home to a number of well-respected colleges and universities where agricultural research and extension programs remain a top priority, including the University of Florida and Florida A&M University, both land-grant universities.

So we speak for the whole committee when we say we are eager for the input of Florida’s producers and stakeholders. We want to know what policy changes would benefit you and your industry, and believe it is essential we ensure all commodities and stakeholders have a seat at the table to express their ideas for improvements, understanding the serious budget constraints we face as a country.

Ultimately, we’re committed to providing Americans with a strong farm bill. Our U.S. agriculture community is as wide and diverse as its citizens, with each sector facing different challenges and opportunities. Every group has its own story to tell and a unique stake in the policy. Yet, the thing that unites us is the understanding that agriculture is important to every American and is vital to feeding and clothing our nation and the world.

— U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville, and Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Panama City, are members of the House Agriculture Committee and Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, is chairman.

Via: The Gainesville Sun

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May/June 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer

mayjune2017_cvrThe May/June 2017 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer is now available online.
Click here!

This issues features:

  • Farming the Delta
  • Irrigation Guidebook
  • Sunbelt Expo Field Day
  • Check off reports from the state grower
    organizations
  • Washington Update
  • Southern Peanut Growers Update
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UGA Insect Scouting Schools to be held in Tifton and Midville, Georgia

UGA Extension peanut entomologist Mark Abney advocates insect scouting. Photo credit: University of Georgia.

UGA Extension peanut entomologist Mark Abney advocates insect scouting.
Photo credit: University of Georgia.

The annual University of Georgia Insect Scouting Schools are open to farmers, consultants and those interested in learning how to diagnose insect damage on high-value agricultural crops like cotton, peanuts and soybeans.

The schools will be held at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center in Tifton, Georgia, on Monday, June 12, and at the Southeast Georgia Research and Education Center in Midville, Georgia, on Tuesday, June 20.

UGA Cooperative Extension entomologists Mark Abney and Phillip Roberts will conduct both trainings, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Participants will learn basic information on identification of insects and damage, pests’ natural enemies and scouting procedures. The schools will include an in-field review and cover insect and caterpillar pests, beneficial insects and safety.

“No matter the year, you can almost guarantee that insect pressure will be high. Whether you’re talking about burrower bugs in peanuts, thrips in cotton and peanuts, or the kudzu bug in soybeans, there are pests out there that can inflict significant damage on crops if our farmers are not monitoring carefully,” Roberts said. “That’s why we stress the importance of scouting and scouting regularly.”

Beginning scouts will be introduced to insect detection, while experienced scouts and producers could use the sessions as a review.

“These schools offer hands-on training from experienced entomologists who know what to look for in the field,” Roberts said. “All farmers who are producing row crops this year will benefit from these scouting schools.”

Roberts stresses pest management through scouting. UGA Extension advises farmers to scout their crops every week.

To register for the scouting school in Tifton, contact Debbie Rutland at 229-386-3424. To register for the Midville scouting school, contact Peyton Sapp at 706-554-2119.

(by Clint Thompson, news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)

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Sonny Perdue Sworn in as 31st U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

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Sonny Perdue, with his wife Mary, takes the oath of office administered by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Sonny Perdue was sworn in as the 31st U.S. Secretary of Agriculture by fellow Georgian and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Clarence Thomas in a brief ceremony today at the Supreme Court building.  The U.S. Senate confirmed Secretary Perdue by a vote of 87-to-11 on Monday evening.  After Secretary Perdue took the oath of office, he addressed employees at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) before getting to work on his first day.  Also this morning, USDA launched his official Twitter handle: @SecretarySonny .

“The only legacy that I seek is the only one that any grandparent or parent seeks – to be good stewards, and to hand off our nation, our home, our fields, our forests, and our farms to the next generation in better shape than we found it,” Perdue said.  “Making sure that Americans who make their livelihoods in the agriculture industry have the ability to thrive will be one of my top priorities. I am committed to serving the customers of USDA, and I will be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.”

Perdue’s policies as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture will be guided by four principles which will inform his decisions.  First, he will maximize the ability of the men and women of America’s agriculture and agribusiness sector to create jobs, to produce and sell the foods and fiber that feed and clothe the world, and to reap the earned reward of their labor. It should be the aim of the American government to remove every obstacle and give farmers, ranchers, and producers every opportunity to prosper.  Second, he will prioritize customer service every day for American taxpayers and consumers.  They will expect, and have every right to demand, that their government conduct the people’s business efficiently, effectively, and with the utmost integrity.  Third, as Americans expect a safe and secure food supply, USDA will continue to serve in the critical role of ensuring the food we put on the table to feed our families meets the strict safety standards we’ve established.  Food security is a key component of national security, because hunger and peace do not long coexist.  And fourth, Perdue will always remember that America’s agricultural bounty comes directly from the land.  And today, those land resources sustain more than 320 million Americans and countless millions more around the globe.  Perdue’s father’s words still ring true: We’re all stewards of the land, owned or rented, and our responsibility is to leave it better than we found it.

“As secretary, I will champion the concerns of farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers, and will work tirelessly to solve the issues facing our farm families,” Perdue said.  “I am proud to have been given this opportunity and look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work as we continue to move the USDA and our nation forward.”

Upon nominating Secretary Perdue in January, President Donald J. Trump said, “Sonny Perdue is going to accomplish great things as Secretary of Agriculture. From growing up on a farm to being governor of a big agriculture state, he has spent his whole life understanding and solving the challenges our farmers face, and he is going to deliver big results for all Americans who earn their living off the land.”

 

 

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