2018 Farm Bill Update
The debate on the House version of the Farm Bill picked up steam late last week as the deadline to file amendments was Friday, May 11. As expected, of the 109 submitted amendments, at least nine of them would significantly alter the current crop insurance program or end it entirely. To be clear, not all of the amendments will reach the House floor or even be ruled in order, but it serves as a good reminder of what we’re dealing with in D.C. You can view a summary of the aforementioned nine amendments below or see them all by  clicking here.

In terms of process, the House Rules Committee is expected to meet later today and/or tomorrow to determine what amendments it will make in order. House floor consideration may occur quickly after that so Republican leaders are busy whipping the votes necessary to pass a Farm Bill. It’s unclear right now if the GOP has the votes it needs, but with all things political, it’s better to be ready for a fight that doesn’t happen than vice versa. We’ll provide additional information as it becomes available and may ask for your help reaching out to your Representatives in order to protect crop insurance.

To that end, you’ll also find relevant rebuttal information to the most common crop insurance myths below. These are great resources for you to use (and share with others) to beat back ill-informed attacks on our industry. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any specific questions or would like to discuss the Farm Bill in more detail.

Proposed 2018 Farm Bill Amendments

  • Amendment 24: Lowers the target rate of return for crop insurance companies from 14.5% to 12%.

  • Amendment 33: Reduces the premium discount for crop insurance policies by 15 percentage points, excluding CAT.

  • Amendment 34: Requires an annual public report of every farmer that purchases insurance, the amount of the premium discount received and the Federal portion of any indemnities paid.

  • Amendment 44: Eliminates the premium discount for any policy that is based on the harvest price.

  • Amendment 51: Eliminates the premium discount for any producer or legal entity with and adjusted gross income limit greater than $500,000.

  • Amendment 57: Prohibits a premium discount on any tobacco insurance policy; any savings goes towards deficit reduction.

  • Amendment 67 & 68: On crop insurance, it puts in place a premium discount limit of $125,000 per year per person or entity. Also reduces the adjusted gross income cap for Title 1 payments from $900,000 to $500,000.

  • Amendment 93: Phases out agricultural subsidies, including crop insurance; specifically, it phases out premium discounts by 10 percent per year through 2030, phases out A&O payments by 10 percent per year through 2030, requires a report on whether A&O costs are effective.

Common Crop Insurance Myths

  • Myth 1: Crop insurance company profits are guaranteed.

  • Myth 2: Harvest price coverage eliminates all risk from farming and is unnecessary.

  • Myth 3: Means testing such as adjusted gross income (AGI) limits and premium assistance caps will keep large, wealthy farmers from receiving assistance they do not need.

  • Myth 4: Increasing premiums for farmers won’t really harm farmers or negatively impact crop insurance.

Click here for additional Crop Insurance Myths vs Facts resource guides on common misconceptions about the crop insurance program. 
RMA Informational Memorandum
PM-18-025: Commodity Exchange Price Provisions for the 2019 and Succeeding Crop Years 

RMA has updated the Barley CEPP document for the 2019 and succeeding crop years.

The CEPP specifies how and when the projected and harvest price components will be
determined. The CEPP contains two sections information relevant for all crop-specific projected and harvest price definitions and specifications, including commodity exchanges, contracts and discovery periods.
RMA Informational Memorandum
MGR-18-004: Deviations from NRCS Cover Crop Termination Guidelines

RMA has clarified the process for requesting a deviation from the NRCS Guidelines, because the Special Provisions statement does not explain how to obtain a deviation once the insured receives management guidance from their Extension or local NRCS office to deviate from the NRCS Guidelines.

The Informational Memorandum linked below provides detail on:
  • Deviation acceptance requirements
  • AIP responsibilities
  • Definition of "agricultural expert"
  • Deviation documentation due date; and
  • Cover crop termination date.
2018 California Almond Forecast
The initial subjective forecast for the 2018 California almond production is 2.30 billion pounds. Forecasted production is 1.3 percent above last year's production of 2.27 billion pounds. Forecasted bearing acreage for 2018 is 1,070,000. Forecasted yield is 2,150 pounds per acre, down 5.3 percent from the 2017 yield of 2,270 pounds per acre.

The 2018 California almond bloom began a few days earlier than normal. The bloom period was extended, due to cold temperatures, and lasted a few weeks. Frosts during bloom hit orchards hard, especially on the east side of the valley. Younger trees were impacted more severely than older trees. Weather during the spring was variable, leading many growers to be unsure about their 2018 crop. As temperatures warmed up in May, nuts were sizing well.
2017 California Raisin Grape Mechanical Harvest Report
Total acreage harvested by mechanical means was 45,548, just over 30 percent of the State’s total raisin-type grape acreage. The Overhead Trellis Management System was used on 13,385 bearing acres in 2017, accounting for 8.9 percent of the total raisin-type grape acreage. Fresno and Madera County growers have 52 and 40 percent of the Overhead Trellis acreage in the State, respectively. Kern County growers have 6 percent of the Overhead Trellis acreage. Other mechanical harvest systems include Continuous Tray at 20 percent of the raisin acreage, South Side with 0.4 percent and Open Gable with about 0.9 percent of the raisin-type grape acreage. 

By variety, Thompson Seedless grape acreage with mechanical harvesting is 32,703 or 25 percent of the total raisin-type grape acreage. Seventy percent of the Fiesta grape acreage is harvested mechanically and 63 percent of the Selma Pete acreage is harvested mechanically.  
USDA Launches 2018 Ag Resource Management Survey
Many of your clients can expect to receive a survey this month from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) for its annual Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS). The survey looks at all aspects of U.S. agricultural production, including farm financial well-being, chemical usage, and various farm characteristics.

Data from the 2018 ARMS will be used to assess the crop insurance choices made by farmers, helping policymakers better understand the impact of crop insurance offerings on farm production decisions and financial outcomes.
Secretary Perdue Names FSA Administrator
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced recently the appointment of Richard Fordyce to serve as Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA). In his role, Fordyce will provide leadership for FSA and its mission to support agricultural production across America through a network of over 2,100 county and 50 state offices.

“As a fourth-generation farmer, Richard brings firsthand knowledge and experience to this role,” Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “I am confident that he will continue to help USDA become the most efficient, effective customer focused agency in the federal government as he leads this customer focused mission area.”
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To view previous Global Ag Reports, visit:  http://globalag.com/category/latest-news/

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