The U.S. Department of Agriculture will start sending additional money to row crop farmers in 14 counties throughout seven states who are enrolled in the Agriculture Risk Coverage program.
The move comes after the USDA reevaluated the program using a different method of determining county yields. Politico says the reevaluation was directed by a provision in the fiscal 2017 government spending measure, which authorized up to $5 million for a pilot project. North Dakota Senator John Hoeven sponsored the pilot program and announced on Thursday that USDA was putting it into place. The pilot program is intended to address farmers’ reports of widespread differences in ARC subsidies from one county to the next, due to the yield data the department uses when calculating payments.
USDA uses the data obtained by the National Ag Statistics Service through survey responses. The problem is those survey responses have declined in recent years. When enough farmers in a county don’t respond to the surveys, the department uses data from the Risk Management Agency, and those two sets of data can be very different. The pilot program gives the USDA’s Farm Service Agency state offices a larger role in ensuring accurate yield calculations, which should fix data differences between counties.