October 24, 2014

USDA Announces Early Roll Out of APH Exclusion Option for 2015 Crops

USDA secretary Tom Vilsack announced implementation of the Actual Production History Yield Exclusion that was included in this year’s farm bill. That means producers won’t have to wait as long as previously thought to take advantage

Vilsack on APH Exclusion

The exclusion allows producers hit by severe weather to receive a higher approved yield and therefore coverage on their crop insurance policies by excluding worst-year yields in 10-year APH calculations. USDA undersecretary Micheal Scuse told House ag lawmakers in July that the APH adjustment wouldn’t be available until fall of next year. But, under pressure to get it done sooner, Vilsack stressed RMA and FSA staff worked extra hard to get the job done now.

House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas welcomed the news from USDA secretary Tom Vilsack announcing Actual Production History adjustment for 2015 spring planted crops.  Lucas says he commends the ag secretary and his team on implementing what he calls a critical provision in the farm bill.  Further, Lucas stated “the APH adjustment means everything to farmers all across the country who have suffered through year after year of devastating drought conditions.” Lucas calls it the difference between having viable crop insurance for the coming year or not. Finally, Lucas said he remains “hopeful that USDA will also work to make the same relief available to winter wheat producers


WTO Rules Against U.S. Country of Origin Labeling

The World Trade Organization has again ruled against Country of Origin Labeling. The WTO compliance panel decided the rule was less favorable to meat imports from Canada and Mexico and more favorable to domestically produced meats. The ruling was announced Monday. The panel concluded the amended COOL measure “increases the original COOL measure’s detrimental impact on the competitive opportunities of imported livestock in the US market,” according to the reports released by the WTO. The panel pointed to the incentive to choose domestic over imported livestock and a higher recordkeeping burden contributed to the ruling. The United States can appeal the ruling.

Canada’s Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz told Canada Today he expected the U.S. to appeal. A U.S. Trade office spokesperson told the Hagstrom report  “we are considering all options, including appealing the panels’ reports.” Earlier this year, Canadian agriculture officials said retaliations are likely if the rule is implemented. Ritz said Canada calls upon the U.S. to enact legislative change to eliminate COOL’s discriminatory treatment against Canadian hogs and cattle.”

Response to Ruling

As groups respond to the recent ruling by the World Trade Organization against Country of Origin Labeling, two messages are clear. Groups opposed to the measure are calling on congress to help stop potential tariffs or bring the rule to compliance. Groups in favor of the measure vow to continue fighting for the measure, noting the WTO simply needs the rule to be in compliance with world trade rules. National Catlemen’s Beef Association President Bob McCan stated the announcement “brings us all one step closer to facing retaliatory tariffs from two of our largest trading partners.” Further, he said there is no regulatory fix to bring COOL into compliance.”  

The National Pork Producers Council President Howard Hill said “Congress and the White House need to address this now.” American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser said the decision “ only solidifies what we in the industry already knew to be true: that mandatory country of origin labeling in its current state is an unworkable burden on soybean farmers’ largest customers—the animal agriculture industry.”

The United States Cattlemen’s Association reiterated strong support for the rule. USCA President Danni Beer said “The WTO has never said we cannot require country-of-origin labeling” but rather it needs to be sufficient.” He said this action by the WTO provided “no basis for false alarms about repealing the COOL statute itself.  The National Farmers Union called the ruling positive that the problem is not the rule, but rather how it is to be implemented.


U.S. Ag Sec Vilsack Speaks On New Price Support Programs

While Producers around the Midwest have been preoccupied with harvest, officials at USDA have been busy wrapping up the final measures to implement one of the cornerstones of the 2014 farm bill. One of the major changes this time around will that previous price support programs will go away and producers will now have to choose between ARC, the Agricultural Risk Coverage option or PLC, the Price Loss Coverage program:

Vilsack ARC PLC 1

That’s US Ag secretary Tom Vilsack. Another change this time around: Landowners will be able to update their base yields and reallocate base acres:

Vilsack ARC PLC 2

That’s right, he said owners. In a major change from previous rules, it will be the land owner, not the operator, who must authorize the changes to base acres and yields Those decisions will impact which program will be most beneficial to the operator and also increase the importance of landowner/renter discussions.

In order to help with these important decisions, USDA has authorized millions in funding for FSA and Land Grant Universities to help build decision maker tools.

Vilsack ARC PLC 3