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USDA Results: Agriculture Production

At USDA, we know that there is no limit to the economic potential of rural America. Over the past eight years, we have worked to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports 1 in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials.

Helping Farmers and Ranchers Grow and Thrive

  • Responded immediately to producers affected by disaster across the country, ranging from record storms and flooding, tornadoes, droughts and blizzards to help keep American agriculture profitable and keep farmers on the farm.
    1. While it took over one year after the 2008 Farm Bill was passed, disaster assistance programs were ready to go in under 10 weeks following the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill-80 percent faster than in 2008. Since the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, these programs have paid producers over $69.1 billion dollars. In 2015, $6.3 billion was paid out to recover from natural disasters, including drought and wildfires, on just over 615,000 claims.
    2. Between 2009 and 2016, the Federal crop insurance program paid out more than $66.7 billion in indemnities so that farmers nationwide can continue to produce after suffering losses due to natural causes. During the historic 2012 drought, the Federal crop insurance program paid out over $17.5 billion in indemnities.
    3. Since passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) has paid over $429 million to producers for losses incurred.
  • Expanded access to credit to help farm and ranch businesses grow and thrive.
    1. Provided more than 279,000 loans to agricultural producers with investment capital of nearly $40 billion to strengthen farming and ranching operations. Annual lending to underserved/socially disadvantaged producers increased dramatically, from $460.3 million in FY 2009 to $841.7 million in FY 2016, an 83% increase.
    2. The microloan program is an important access point to new, small or underserved farmers and ranchers. Since the program's inception in January 2013, USDA has issued nearly 22,000 microloans (almost 6,900 in FY 2016 alone). Seventy percent of these loans have gone to beginning farmers.
    3. Since 2009, issued 213,557 loan deficiency payments totaling over $641 million to eligible producers when the market price for specific commodities fell below its respective county loan rate. In addition, 381,089 commodity and marketing assistance loans (MAL) were disbursed totaling over $41.7 billion. MALS provide eligible producers interim financing after harvest to meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are typically at harvesting-time lows and facilitating more orderly marketing of commodities throughout the year.
    4. Provided financing for on-farm storage and handling for over 1 billion bushels of eligible commodities and disbursed over $2.2 billion to more than 39,000 eligible producers through the Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) Program since 2000. In 2016, USDA expanded the Farm Storage Facility Loan Program (FSFL) to include financing for new and used eligible equipment and facilities, including portable storage facilities and storage handling trucks. In addition, a new loan FSFL loan category was added for producers with an aggregate loan balance of $50,000, simplifying the loan application process.
  • Strengthened the farm safety net by allowing farmers to exclude yields in exceptionally bad years (such as a year in which a natural disaster or other extreme weather occurred) from their production history when calculating yields used to establish their crop insurance coverage. By excluding unusually bad years, farmers will not have to worry that a natural disaster will reduce their amount of insurance for years to come.
  • Expanded safety-net options to include Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) insurance, a program that allows producers to insure all commodities on the farm rather than just one, is now offered in every county in the United States -- a first for the Federal crop insurance program.
    1. Expanded programs are increasing options for producers. WFRP increased by approximately 26 percent with more than $1.1 billion in liabilities, nearly double that of the program WFRP replaced in 2014.
  • In the 2015 crop year, there were approximately 1.2 million crop policies spanning about 556,000 farm and ranch operations. These policies cover more than 297 million acres.
  • Expansion and policy changes expand upon USDA's effort to provide a safety net for diversified growers such as organic, and fruit and vegetable growers.
  • RMA has taken steps to provide effective Federal crop insurance coverage for organic crops and better risk management tools for organic producers.
    1. USDA eliminated the historical 5 percent surcharge on organic policy premiums for all crops, added more crops with organic price elections, and added a contract price option.
    2. In 2011, for the first time ever, USDA began offering crop insurance for organic producers that reflects organic market prices. Organic price elections have expanded from four crops, which were first offered in 2011, to 57 crops in 2016. Also for 2016, producers transitioning to certified organic production can now use the Contract Price Addendum to cover their crops at a higher price than traditional crops.
    3. Organic price elections for certain citrus crops in Arizona and California will be available for the 2017 crop year.
  • Expanded Federal crop insurance program coverage for farmers and specialty crops by improving price coverage and eliminating the premium surcharge for organic producers.
  • Offered new crop insurance tools beginning in the 2015 crop year to help protect producers from yield, revenue and market volatility. The Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) and Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX), as required by the Farm Bill, will help protect farmers from naturally occurring events that cause shallow losses.
    1. SCO will increase from seven crops offered in 2015 to 59 crops beginning with 2016 crop year.
    2. STAX is available in all counties where Federal crop insurance coverage for upland cotton is offered. And with written agreements being allowed in 2016, coverage is nearly 100 percent. STAX is also allowing coverage on cottonseed for the 2016 crop year.
  • Offered farmers and ranchers the option to provide the common information from their acreage reports to either Farm Service Agency (FSA) or participating insurance providers approved by the Risk Management Agency (RMA). This is part of the USDA Acreage Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative (ACRSI). This interagency collaboration also includes participating private crop insurance agents and insurance companies, all working to streamline the information collected from farmers and ranchers who participate in USDA programs.
  • The Cotton Transition Assistance Program (CTAP), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, provided interim payments to cotton producers until the Stacked Income Protection Plan, a new insurance product created by the legislation became available. Since the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, cotton producers received over $493 million in payments under the CTAP.
  • Implemented the Cotton Ginning Cost-Share (CGCS) program, which provided needed assistance to financially stressed cotton producers in 2016. Through the CGCS program, eligible producers received a one-time cost share payment to expand and maintain the domestic marketing of cotton. To date, the program has provided about $328 million to assist cotton producers.
  • Enrolled more than half of all dairy farms in America in the new Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) established in the 2014 Farm Bill. This voluntary program provides financial assistance to participating producers when the margin - the difference between the price of milk and feed costs - falls below the cover level selected by the producer. Since its inception, MPP-Dairy has provided over $11 million to dairy producers.
  • Enrolled 1.76 million farms in the new Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, more than who participated in the previous direct payments program, by conducting an unprecedented educational campaign that included webtool presentations to almost 3,000 organizations, 5 million mailings to producers, and more than 4,880 educational events with more than 447,000 attendees. The ARC and PLC programs have provided over $5.3 billion in financial help for crop year 2014 to more than 1 million farms. In addition, ARC and PLC is projected to pay over $7 billion to producers in FY 2017 for the 2015 crop year.
  • Provided better crop insurance coverage to over 13,700 new and beginning farmers and ranchers participating in beginning farmer crop insurance incentives, including almost 49,000 policies. Beginning farmers and ranchers have saved over $14.5 million in premiums and administrative fees because of this new program in the 2014 Farm Bill.
  • Strengthened the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) for new producers by reducing the premiums on buy-up level coverage by 50 percent for new farmers and waiving their application fee.
    1. USDA estimates 1,241 new and beginning farmer first-time applicants enrolled in NAP in 2015. To date, there are 2,160 new and beginning farmer first-time applicants enrolled in NAP for 2016.

Providing Educational Tools for Farmers and Ranchers

  • Awarded $3 million to universities to develop online tools, which started going live in late summer 2014, to help producers determine how best to protect their farm business through program options like Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), Price Loss Coverage (PLC), Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) for crop insurance, Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy), and Non-Insured Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).
  • Engaged in cooperative agreements with 55 partners to educate farmers and other producers that have been underserved by USDA programs historically to provide financial, disaster or technical support. Nearly $2.5 million is going to nonprofits, associations, universities, and foundations that will provide training and information on agricultural best practices, local networking opportunities and more.
  • FSA provided a Crop Production Ledger as an optional recordkeeping tool for producers participating in the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

Streamlining Assistance and Saving Taxpayer Dollars

  • Created a consistent, simple and flexible policy for cover crops across USDA agencies that ensures today's farmers can benefit from sound erosion control and the farm safety net.
  • Established 15 common dates for farmers and ranchers to report acreage and crop data, reducing burdensome paperwork on producers and costs to USDA. There had previously been more than 70 reporting dates.

Boosting Competiveness through Better Research and Improved Technology

  • Conducted research on drought-tolerant, heat-tolerant, and saline-resistant crops that will enhance the competitiveness of American farmers in global trade.
  • In FY 2017, a portion of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative will focus on technological and strategic solutions to critical water problems in food production systems, and will address the social and economic barriers for adoption of water conservation technologies and practices.
  • Conducted research that is helping to improve the technology associated with irrigation equipment to reduce spills and help manage limited water resources more effectively. By developing new software and more robust forecasting models, USDA research will help producers better manage water resources in the future.