Iowa Farmers Upset Over USDA's New SURE Disaster Program

Iowa Farmers Upset Over USDA's New SURE Disaster Program

Senator Chuck Grassley pushes USDA for fair pricing for permanent disaster assistance program payments.

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Ia., on March 11 made the case to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack that Iowa hay and forage producers are being pushed out of the new USDA permanent disaster assistance program because the valuation on hay and forage is too high for many farmers to recoup any losses from the historic floods in 2008.


"I've received a number of calls from Iowa farmers who are rightly upset that they are being shut out of any assistance because of an unsightly high price that was set for alfalfa in the Permanent Disaster Program," says Grassley. "If the USDA's Farm Service Agency could make this change for these Iowa farmers to more fairly reflect the conditions in the state, it would be a tremendous help." 


Grassley said that the Farm Service Agency has the authority to adjust the National Average Market Price to better reflect regional variations.  He's asking that the agency consider using this authority to more equitably treat farmers with hay and forage.


Here is a copy of Grassley's letter to Vilsack:


March 11, 2010


The Honorable Tom Vilsack

Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave., SW

Washington, DC 20250


Dear Secretary Vilsack,


Over the last two months I've been contacted by many producers in Iowa who are concerned about the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE).  Specifically, livestock producers across the state with hay and forage ground feel that the total farm revenue calculation detrimentally impacts them.


While I understand that certain thresholds must be set by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and met by the producers, I am concerned that valuation calculations set on hay and forage are too high. In turn, some farmers in Iowa who have had substantial crop losses from the 2008 flooding on their corn and soybeans are not meeting the required difference between the SURE guarantee and their total farm revenue. The National Average Market price (NAMP) for alfalfa is set at $139/ton. This price was established using Iowa Ag Statistics. 


I understand that FSA has the authority to adjust these prices and I encourage you to consider alternatives. The SURE final rule published in the Federal Register, Vol. 74, No. 247 on Monday, December 28, 2009 states that the NAMP may be adjusted, as determined by the FSA Deputy Administrator, to reflect regional variations with the Non-insured Crop Assistance Program (NAP).  The NAP price is currently set at $84/ton for Alfalfa.


I know that the Iowa Farm Service Agency office has submitted their concerns and comments to FSA Administrator Coppess on this issue.  I urge you to consider their recommendations and make any changes to SURE within your authority to more equitably treat producers with hay and forage.


Thank you for consideration of this request.



Chuck Grassley

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