Two ND counties participate in pilot program to improve farm payments

WASHINGTON – The U.S. department of Agriculture has implemented a pilot program to improve the fairness of payments under the Agriculture Risk Coverage program, Sen. John Hoeven,, R-ND, announced Thursday.

Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, had helped secure the pilot program in 14 counties across seven states, including Divide and Sheridan in North Dakota.

The program was passed as part of the Fiscal Year2017 funding bill, and the senator has included additional funding for the program in the Senate’s FY2018 appropriations legislation. Hoeven continues to work to include a similar measure in the next farm bill as a long-term solution to the ARC payment calculation issue.

The pilot program gives state Farm Service Agency offices a role in ensuring accurate yield determinations under the ARC program. If the FSA office finds a disparity between yield calculations in comparable counties using National Agriculture Statistics Service data, the office may fix any inaccuracy by using an alternate calculation method, such as Risk Management Administration data or NASS district data.

ARC county payments became an issue for farmers in North Dakota beginning in the 2014 crop year due to the USDA’s current method of calculating yields, which are determined using voluntary data reported by producers to the NASS. However, in some counties reporting is sparse, resulting in no or inaccurate data on which to base ARC payments.