Lawmakers working on long-term fix in next farm bill
A pilot program intended to fix disparities in commodity payments from one county to the next has begun by USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA), according to Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who got the pilot program in the fiscal 2017 government spending package and included additional funding for it in the fiscal 2018 agriculture appropriations bill that is pending in Congress. He and his colleagues are working on a long-term fix in the next farm bill.
“This pilot program will help ensure that [Agriculture Risk Coverage/ARC] payments to farmers are fair and reflect real-world yields,” Hoeven said in a statement.
The pilot program gives state FSA offices a role in ensuring accurate yield calculations, he said, including fixing any disparities between data in comparable counties.
Farmers have reported wide differences in payments between counties in the same state, and lawmakers have said it's due to the yield data that FSA uses to calculate subsidies. FSA uses yield data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, part of USDA, and is based on voluntary surveys submitted by farmers. But survey response rates have been declining, so much that when enough farmers in a county don't submit surveys, FSA will use Risk Management Agency data instead. These two data sets can vary.