Government Policy Notes for September 2018

  • On Aug. 27, President Trump announced a trade deal between Mexico and the U.S. The U.S. has been working to renegotiate NAFTA, although Canada is not part of the new agreement. Both the U.S. and Mexico have left open the possibility of Canada joining negotiations.
  • The first farm bill conference committee meeting was set for Sep. 5. Both the House and Senate approved their versions of the farm bill. Now the two chambers will negotiate the differences between the two bills.
  • Beginning Sep. 4, eligible producers—including landowners on a crop share rent—can apply for the new Market Facilitation Program, which will provide payments at 50% of the 2018 actual production multiplied by the program payment rate. Payment rates are currently set at $1.65/bu for soybeans, $0.86/bu for sorghum, $0.14/bu for wheat, $0.06/lb for cotton and $0.01/bu for corn. Payments per eligible person or entity will be capped at $125,000 for the commodities. Additionally, payments are available to dairy and hog producers with a separate payment limitation. The USDA also announced that a second payment period may begin in December.
  • Landowners with generic base have until Dec. 7 to convert 80% of the base to seed cotton or proportional to average crops planted during 2009-2012. The second step is to choose between the ARC and PLC programs.
  • Applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) are due by Nov. 9. EQIP is a cost-share program to help landowners and producers conserve natural resources and improve farming operations.
  • States with Right-to-Farm statutes may need to reevaluate after a federal jury in North Carolina awarded $473 million verdict against Smithfield Foods. Six residents sued seeking damages due to odor. The presiding judge ruled that North Carolina’s statute did not protect Smithfield from liability when neighboring homes preceded the farming operation.
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