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USDA farm assistance update

Friday, May 22, 2020   (0 Comments)
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From Tim Trotter, executive director

Last week, the Agriculture Department announced that farmers can begin signing up for direct payments from the federal government on Tuesday, May 26. 

Since the rule was released, the Farm Service Agency has been working on how the details of how the rule will be implemented. There have been some updates that dairy farmers should be aware of.

In addition to assistance for milk losses detailed below, dairy farmers will also qualify for:

Livestock: Dairy farmers may also claim assistance when they sell animals. Cull cattle sold in the eligible period will be treated as Slaughter Cattle: Mature Cattle and counted on a per head basis. Dairy calves sold will fall under one of two Feeder Cattle categories depending on if the animal was above or below 600 lbs. Heifers sold intended for milk production will not be eligible for an additional livestock payment. You may read more about livestock payments here.

Corn stored as feed: We have confirmation that corn silage will be eligible for assistance under the non-specialty crop section of the farmer payments. At this time, no further details have been shared on how inventory will be calculated. We will provide that information as soon as possible.


Eligibility: To be eligible, dairy farms must have milk production in January, February, and/or March 2020. Milk disposed of during those months is also eligible for assistance. Milk covered under other risk management tools such as forward contracts, dairy margin coverage, dairy revenue protection and livestock gross margin will qualify for assistance.

Calculations: Financial assistance will be based a farmer’s certification of milk production for the first quarter of calendar year 2020. A single payment of about $6.20 per hundredweight will be made comprised of the following two calculations:

  • First quarter milk production multiplied by $4.71 per hundredweight.
  • First quarter milk production times a national adjustment factor of 1.014 and multiplied by $1.47 per hundredweight.

Prorated payments: Payments will be prorated, with 80 percent paid initially and the remainder at a later date if funds remain available.

Payment caps: Payments will be limited to $250,000 per person or legal entity. The cap applies to the total amount of payments with respect to all eligible commodities. If a legal entity has more than one member/partner, the entity may qualify for up to three times the $250,000 payment cap. Adjusted gross income limitations also apply.

Get prepared: More information including the application form, supporting documentation, and a new payment calculator are available on this USDA webpage. If a farm is already an existing FSA customer, most of the information is likely already on file at the local service center. FSA offices will only take phone appointments at this time, so do not send information without first contacting the office.

I want you to know that the Edge team is working to make sure our dairy farmer members can sign up and receive assistance as smoothly as possible. We know the local Farm Service Agency offices are working diligently to prepare to process assistance applications, but it is difficult during this unprecedented time. Please be courteous and patient as you reach out to apply.  

Stay tuned in coming days for additional updates. 

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