Ag News

FSA producers meetings highlight cotton, WHIP and trade prorgrams

The University of Georgia Extension Service and Georgia Farm Service Agency (FSA) hosted a series of meetings across the state Sept. 10-12 that provided a crash course on USDA programs with major implications for Georgia farmers. Georgia FSA Farm Programs Chief Brett Martin and UGA Extension Economists Adam Rabinowitz and Yangxuan Liu discussed the seed cotton program, the 2017 Wildfires & Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP), the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) and the Market Facilitation Program (MFP).

“The budget legislation passed earlier this year [Bipartisan Budget Act in February and FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act in March] was sort of like a mini-farm bill as it included funding for the seed cotton program, WHIP and TAP,” Georgia Farm Service Agency Director Tas Smith said. “We’re holding these meetings across the state to increase awareness of the programs and answer questions farmers may have as enrollment in the programs is underway.”

Dec. 7 enrollment deadline for Seed Cotton Program

Martin explained that the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 made seed cotton (unginned upland cotton, both lint and seed) a covered commodity under the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs of the current farm bill for the 2018 crop year.

Farm owners that had generic base (cotton base under the 2008 farm bill) as of Sept. 30, 2013, and have a planting history of covered commodities (canola, corn, oats, peanuts, seed cotton, sesame, grain sorghum, soybeans, sunflower seeds, wheat) from 2009-2016, have a one-time chance to allocate generic base acres to seed cotton and/or other covered commodities. Martin said the USDA sent farm owners a letter in August with a summary of acres planted in covered commodities from 2008-2012 as reported to USDA, which should help in the allocation process.

Farm owners also have a one-time chance to update the farm’s payment yield for seed cotton.  UGA Extension Economist Yangxuan Liu explained that farm owners can opt to retain the counter-cyclical payment yield for upland cotton listed on the farm record as of Sept. 3, 2013, multiplied by 2.4, or update the cotton yield to 90 percent of a simple average of upland cotton yield per planted acre on the farm for the 2008-2012 crop years. Farm owners will certify to a yield for upland cotton planted on the farm for each year during 2008-2012 that must be supported by acceptable evidence if requested by FSA. Acceptable evidence includes Risk Management Agency records, gin bale listings, warehouse receipts and FSA loan records.

After farm owners allocate generic base acres and update the payment yield, current farm producers (renters) will choose to elect either the ARC or PLC program for the new seed cotton base acres. A farm that doesn’t make a selection will have its seed cotton acres automatically enrolled in the PLC program.

Liu gave an overview of a decision aid the UGA Extension Economist team has developed to help farm owners and producers decide how they should best allocate their generic base acres and update their seed cotton payment yield. Visit to access the guide titled “Seed Cotton Generic Base & Yield Update (Rev. Aug. 30).”

Nov. 16 sign-up deadline for WHIP

Martin also gave an overview of the 2017 Wildfires & Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to distribute up to $2.36 billion to farmers in nine states/territories (Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands) where production, crops, trees, bushes or vines were lost due to natural disasters.

To qualify for the program, impacted farms must be in a county that received a Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or an Agriculture Secretarial Disaster Designation. Last November, the USDA issued primary disaster designations to 83 Georgia counties and an additional 25 counties received contiguous disaster designations.

WHIP is paying cost-share assistance to replant and rehabilitate trees on the same area. The program is paying for production loss separately as the loss may be covered by another USDA risk management program, which is calculated using the 2017 WHIP formula: (Expected Value of the Crop x WHIP Factor) - Value of Crop Harvested – Insurance Indemnity = Payment. The WHIP Factor ranges from 65 to 95 percent. Farmers who did not insure their crops in 2017 will receive 65 percent of the expected value of the crop. Farmers with crop insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage will receive between 70 and 95 percent of expected value. Farmers who had crop insurance at the highest coverage levels will receive 95 percent coverage.

Both insured and uninsured farmers are eligible to apply for WHIP. All producers who receive 2017 WHIP payments must purchase risk management coverage (either crop insurance at the 60 percent coverage level or NAP coverage if crop insurance is not available) for the next two years insurance is available for the crop.

Jan. 15 deadline to apply for Market Facilitation Program

Martin also provided details of the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), which the FSA is administering to provide direct payments to producers of corn, cotton, dairy, pork, sorghum, soybeans and wheat for the negative impact they have experienced as a result of tariffs imposed by China on U.S. ag exports. 

The FSA began accepting applications on Sept. 4 and the deadline for producers to apply is Jan. 15, 2019. Martin said farmers should apply after their crop is completely harvested since payments will only be issued once production is reported. He said producers must be able to certify their reported production if requested by the FSA for a spot check. Martin encouraged farmers to keep verifiable production records such as sale receipts, Risk Management Agency production records, ginning records or vet records for hogs.

Payments will be issued on 50 percent of a producer’s total production, multiplied by the MFP rate for the following commodities: cotton 6 cents/pound; corn 1 cent/bushel; milk 12 cents/hundred pounds; hogs $8/head; soybeans $1.65/bushel; sorghum 86 cents/bushel; and wheat 14 cents/bushel.

Georgia FSA Director Tas Smith explained the payment rates are based on the impact Chinese tariffs are expected to have on a crop.

A total of $4.7 billion in MFP payments has been budgeted with $3.6 billion going to soybean producers as the crop most affected.

For more information about any of these programs, visit your local FSA office or