Hoeven Calls on FSA Administrator to Use State Yield Estimates for ARC Program

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, who serves on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, today called on Farm Service Administrator Val Dolcini to use yield estimates submitted to them by the North Dakota state Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to determine county Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) payments in counties for which there was no National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data. Under USDA’s current method of calculating payments, there was no payment at all for corn farmers in LaMoure and Logan who signed up for the county ARC program.  Meanwhile, corn farmers in Ransom and Steele counties received lower payments than they should have because FSA did not use NASS yields from comparable counties to calculate their payments.

“Our local estimates for these counties are more in line with actual production and are based on National Agriculture Statistics Service data in similarly productive counties,” Hoeven said. “There is a state FSA committee made up of producers with firsthand knowledge of local growing conditions. The USDA needs to use this valuable tool to assign county average yields that make sense in the real world.”

The problem occurred because of how the USDA substituted yield data to calculate the actual county revenue for the county ARC program when NASS data is unavailable.  FSA should allow the state FSA offices to use NASS data from similarly productive counties. Several counties do not have published NASS data. The result is that corn farmers in LaMoure and Logan counties should have received payments but will not and corn farmers in Ransom and Steele Counties received payments much lower than they otherwise would have.

As a member of the Agriculture Committee and conferee that negotiated the final version of the 2014 farm bill, Hoeven worked to produce strong legislation that included ARC as a component.  Many thought ARC wouldn’t be used much because prices were high then, but prices, as they always do in farming, have changed.