Within a week after the government opened from a 16-day shutdown in October, Farm Service Agency employees were able to quickly issue payments to more than 1 million farmers and ranchers.
Secretary Vilsack said that he was “proud of the commitment by USDA employees” to ensure these conservation and safety net funds reached America’s farmers and ranchers. “USDA assures rural America that it remains a priority, and these actions by FSA staff serve as yet another reminder that America needs passage of a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible to continue support of producers.”
After returning on Oct. 17, employees restored the agency’s information technology system and issued payments on 825,000 Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts and 1.2 million farms participating in the Direct and Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) programs. FSA also resumed the commodity marketing assistance loans and begin fulfilling operating and farm ownership loans.
I am confident that farmers and ranchers know and appreciate how our staff at FSA worked to resume these payments quickly and efficiently after the shutdown ended. Their efforts demonstrate FSA’s commitment to helping maintain financial stability for agricultural producers.
Employees issued CRP payments beginning Oct. 21, just two business days after returning from the shutdown. Farmers and ranchers enrolled in CRP receive annual rental payments from USDA to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant grasses or trees that will improve water quality and waterfowl and wildlife habitat.
Direct payments and ACRE payments for 2012-crop barley, corn, grain sorghum, lentils, oats, peanuts, dry peas, soybeans and wheat were released by Oct. 24. Additional ACRE payments for other crops will be released this December and in February, 2014.