Divide and Sheridan counties are among 14 counties in the country chosen for a U.S. Department of Agriculture pilot program to possibly restructure some crop insurance payment calculations.

Commodity groups, particularly those representing growers of row crops, had raised issue with how USDA-calculated payments for Agriculture Risk Coverage insurance product. The program relies on results from optional surveys sent out by USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service.

“With NASS if you had farmers who chose not to fill out a survey to where you got the required number of responses, you couldn’t get a yield calculation,” said Mark Watne, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union.

Even those farmers who did not receive a request to respond to the survey would be impacted, he said.

Legislation, sponsored by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., to create the pilot program was passed as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 funding bill and the program has been implemented, adjusting where necessary payments made to farmers this year for crops grown in 2016. The senator has included additional funding for the program in the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations legislation.

The pilot gives state Farm Service Agency offices the ability to correct any disparity between yield calculations by using an alternate calculation method, such as Risk Management Administration data, rather than relying on the survey data.

“It’s simply an economic thing,” Watne said. “We should get to a more true number.”

The results of the pilot program could factor into ARC payment calculations in the next Farm Bill. 

“This pilot program will help ensure that ARC payments to farmers are fair and reflect real-world yields,” Hoeven said in a statement. “The upcoming farm bill gives us an opportunity to implement this kind of a solution on a long-term basis.”

ARC county payments became an issue in the 2014 and 2015 crop years, said Dale Ihry, executive director of the North Dakota Corn Growers.

 

Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com

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