MFP and a return to normalcy (Keeping the Farm)
(Editor’s note: Robert Wevodau is an ag program specialist with Farm Service Agency, Maryland.)
It’s good to be back to work. As I write this column FSA is currently up and running and we are hopeful that by the time this goes to press, this sentence is still correct.
That is the good news.
The bad news is that by the time you are reading this, the deadline for the Market Facilitation Program will have passed. So if you have not signed up, this article won’t really be able to serve as a reminder.
To recap, the MFP provides direct payments to help corn, cotton, sorghum, soybean, wheat, dairy, hog, shelled almonds, and fresh sweet cherry producers who have been directly impacted by illegal retaliatory tariffs, resulting in the loss of traditional exports.
Due to the government shutdown, the deadline to apply was extended to Feb. 14.
Though that deadline has passed, I do want to take a moment to thank our Farm Service Agency County Office personnel.
Though I focus mostly on Maryland, this gratitude is for the entire FSA family.
This winter has certainly been one to remember. We’ve implemented MFP which was created from scratch and required every county office employee to quickly learn the ins and outs of the program.
Due to the nature of MFP, it also involved just about every grain producer in the nation, which obviously created a heavy workload and a lot of foot traffic.
We’ve also sat through the longest government shutdown in history, and even experienced a few days of working without pay.
But through it all, our county staff has risen to the occasion. They stay long after the office is closed, worked through lunches, and worked weekends.
All to make sure our producers are served, and as the payment figures continue to rise, we are seeing the results of that hard work.
It is our hope that these MFP payments are helping our producers in Maryland and the rest of the country as well.
While we are on the topic of MFP, I just want to mention an additional reminder.
Though the sign up has passed, there remains the May 1, 2019 deadline for submitting production evidence.
If you have any questions regarding MFP, please call or visit your local FSA office.
With the MFP deadline behind us, we are starting to gear up for our next adventure: The new Farm Bill.
The Bill was passed shortly before the government shutdown, so there wasn’t much time to begin the process of implementation, but as we head towards spring, that will be our focus both in Washington D.C. and Maryland.
After the staff in Washington work through policy changes and make any discretionary changes, training will begin for FSA employees to learn the details of the new programs, and any changes to the old programs that are carrying over.
As you can see, things have been busy at FSA and look to become even more so.
Again, I appreciate all the FSA staff for their hard work and professionalism during this time.
Though my focus is with farm programs, that gratitude extends to our FSA loan staff as well.
Adversity isn’t always fun, but it does provide an opportunity to rise to the occasion and show what you are capable of, and I believe our staff has done just that.
It makes me proud to be a part of this organization. Now on to our next Farm Bill.
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