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Pilot Program to Improve Fairness of Ag Risk Payments
North Dakota Ag Connection - 01/12/2018

Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Thurday announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has implemented the pilot program he secured to improve the fairness of payments under USDA's Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program. USDA has started the pilot in 14 counties across seven states, including Divide and Sheridan counties in North Dakota.

Hoeven's legislation to create the pilot program was passed as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 funding bill, and the senator has included additional funding for the program in the Senate's FY2018 appropriations legislation. Hoeven continues to work to include a similar measure in the next farm bill as a long-term solution to the ARC payment calculation issue.

"This pilot program will help ensure that ARC payments to farmers are fair and reflect real-world yields," said Hoeven. "The upcoming farm bill gives us an opportunity to implement this kind of a solution on a long-term basis for farmers across the nation, and I continue to work with agriculture producers in North Dakota and my colleagues on the Senate Agriculture Committee to do just that."

The pilot program gives state Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices a role in ensuring accurate yield determinations under the ARC program. If the FSA office finds a disparity between yield calculations in comparable counties using National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) data, the office may fix any inaccuracy by using an alternate calculation method, such as Risk Management Administration (RMA) data or NASS district data.

ARC county payments became an issue for farmers in North Dakota beginning in the 2014 crop year due to the USDA's current method of calculating yields, which are determined using voluntary data reported by producers to the NASS. However, in some counties reporting is sparse, resulting in no or inaccurate data on which to base ARC payments. Hoeven has been pushing for greater flexibility in the way yields are calculated since that time.

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