New USDA Secretary Sends Promised Crop Loss Payments
(March 16, 2001)
Compensation for 2000 crop year losses are arriving to pay off last season's loans and secure final arrangements for a new crop year already underway in many parts of the country. In previous years, producer payments had not arrived until April 2000 and as late as June in 1999. Producers began in January making applications for last season's weather-related crop losses, while incoming USDA management worked through a paperwork backlog left behind from September. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-Texas) praised new Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman for accelerating the process to get payments to producers.
"Secretary Veneman inherited an approval process 54 days ago that was far from complete, yet made good on her promise to provide leadership and support so USDA personnel may now deliver on payments due producers for last year's crop losses," said Combest. "The producer's ability to complete financial arrangements is important to moving forward with field preparations so that loans are secured, seed and input costs are paid, and rural communities can begin the cycle of a new growing season."
County offices of USDA's Farm Service Agency received authority Friday to make producer payments, and in cases of pre-arranged electronic deposits, directly to the producer's bank account. Producers who suffered at least a 35 percent production loss in the 2000 crop year may be eligible for signup that has continued since January 18.
Ag Chairman Combest noted that producers and their lenders could rely on payment equaling 100 percent of the eligible production loss determined by FSA. Congress provided "such sums as may be necessary" without a pro-rate factor imposed in previous years that would have limited payment based on the total number of eligible applicants.