Senator John Hoeven today held a virtual roundtable with North Dakota producers, commodity groups and Farm Service Agency (FSA) officials to discuss the COVID-19 relief and disaster assistance that he recently secured for farmers and ranchers. Specifically, Hoeven worked as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee to:
- Include nearly $13 billion of agriculture assistance in the COVID-19 relief legislation passed by Congress in December.
- Finalize the Quality Loss Assistance (QLA) program to help producers recover from quality losses due to natural disasters in 2018 and 2019.
- The senator also secured $1.5 billion for the Wildfire, Hurricane and Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) and QLA in Fiscal Year 2021 to ensure program funding is sufficient to meet demand from producers.
Today’s discussion comes as part of a series of meetings that Hoeven has held with local producers to facilitate feedback to the administration and ensure assistance is delivered as effectively as possible, with the goal of getting back to stable production conditions and farmers and ranchers selling their products at fair market rates.
“Our farmers and ranchers are not only central to North Dakota’s economy, they are essential to our state and nation’s quality of life by providing the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world,” said Hoeven. “The COVID-19 relief and quality loss coverage that we’ve secured are necessary, temporary measures to help producers through an unprecedented series of challenges. We appreciate the administration for their continued efforts with us to get this assistance out as effectively as possible, so we can get past these difficult times and return to a stable farm economy.”
Securing Additional Agriculture Assistance
The additional agriculture relief includes:
- Support for producers of non-specialty crops by providing a payment of $20/acre. North Dakota producers are estimated to receive upwards of $360 million.
- An inventory top-up payment for cattle producers to more closely align payment rates under Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) 1 and CFAP 2.
- Funding for a grant program to allow small meat processors to make improvements to become federally inspected.
- Support for producers forced to depopulate livestock due to insufficient processing capacity.
Hoeven also worked to include a provision to establish a livestock statutory dealer trust to ensure unpaid sellers of livestock are given priority in collecting receivables in the event of a dealer default. Hoeven was a cosponsor of standalone legislation to establish a livestock dealer trust.
Recovering from Quality Losses
Hoeven worked to expand disaster assistance programs to cover quality losses and added excess moisture and D3 drought as eligible disaster events under WHIP+ to benefit North Dakota producers. Since then, Hoeven has repeatedly urged U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials, including Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Under Secretary Bill Northey and FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce, to finalize the program’s details and get the assistance out to producers.
QLA will provide assistance to producers who suffered crop quality losses due to qualifying disaster events in 2018 and 2019. Covered disasters include hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, snowstorms, wildfires, drought and excessive moisture. Assistance will be based on a producer’s harvested affected production of an eligible crop that had at least a five percent quality loss due to all eligible disaster events. Payments will be calculated using formulas based on the type of crop and type of documentation submitted.
·Producer payments will equal 70% of their total dollar value loss on impacted production for non-forage crops with verifiable documentation of grading factors and the total dollar value loss due to quality.
·For non-forage crops without verifiable documentation of the total dollar value loss, but with verifiable documentation of grading factors, payments will equal total impacted production, multiplied by a county average loss per unit multiplied by 70% multiplied by 50%.
Signup for QLA runs from January 6 through March 5, 2021. Payments will be subject to payment limitations and adjusted gross income restrictions. Additional information on QLA is available from USDA at www.farmers.gov.