Yesterday, U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the $290 million promised to struggling dairy farmers months ago is one step closer. After immediate action was urged by many farm dairy organizations, the payment program now has a name, new rules and a sign-up procedure.
But the checks aren't in the mail, and no date has officially been give.
Eligible dairy producers will receive economic assistance via the Dairy Economic Loss Assistance Payment to "help stabilize their operations during these tough economic times," said Vilsack. The one-time direct payment will be based on the milk produced and commercially marketed during the months of February through July 2009. Production information from these months will be used to estimate a full year's production for an operation to calculate the payments, using a 6-million-pound per dairy operation limit.
Producers who have production records at their Farm Service Agency county office due to participation in another FSA dairy program don't need to apply. FSA will use existing production records for February through July to calculate and issue their payments.
Producers who haven't provided FSA with production data for those months and haven't already been contacted, have until Jan. 19, 2010, to apply. FSA officials estimate more than 95% of eligible producers will receive benefits without having to fill out a new application.
A national per hundred weight payment rate will be determined by dividing the available funding of $290 million, less a reserve established by FSA, divided by the total pounds of eligible milk production approved for payment. The expected payment rate is approximately $0.32 per hundredweight.
Who qualified and how
To be eligible for DELAP, the dairy producer and the dairy operation in which the producer has a share must:
- have annual average adjusted non-farm income of $500,000 or less for calendar years 2006 through 2008;
- comply with USDA provisions for highly erodible land and wetlands;
- not have been convicted of a controlled substance violation.
For more details, visit your local FSA county office or www.fsa.usda.gov.