Hoeven Asks USDA Secretary Vilsack to Help With ARC Payments

Secretary Commits to Provide Senator an Answer on NASS Data

WASHINGTON – During a hearing of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee this week, Senator John Hoeven pressed U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to make sure that the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program is meeting producers’ needs. Since November, Hoeven has been pressing USDA to use yield estimates from the North Dakota state FSA office to determine county ARC payments when National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data is unavailable or incomplete in a given county. Vilsack committed to get an answer for the senator. 

“We need to make sure that the Farm Bill is working as intended, especially in light of low commodity prices,” said Hoeven. “We’ve been pressing the USDA to use the most accurate data available when calculating county ARC eligibility to ensure USDA is providing payments to farmers who should be eligible. Secretary Vilsack committed to provide us with an answer on whether or not the agency will agree to our request. We made the case for using expert knowledge from folks on the ground to determine county yields when NASS data is unavailable and hope that USDA will agree with us.” 

Due to USDA’s current method of calculating payments under the ARC program, no payments were made to corn farmers in LaMoure and Logan counties and inadequate payments were made to farmers in Ransom and Steele counties for the 2014 crop year. In November, Hoeven pressed Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini to use state-yield estimates and has been working as a member of the Senate Agriculture and Agriculture Appropriations Committees to ensure that the right data is in place for the ARC program in future years.