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Market Facilitation Program Payment Totals Won’t Hit Max of $9.6 Billion

A comparative handful of farmers probably are still dealing with the paperwork for the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) – the deadline to certify production is May 1 – but disbursements nationwide seem destined to be smaller than first suggested. Payments totaled $7.06 billion just before the February 14 application deadline. Up to $9.6 billion was available, with soybean growers to get the lion’s share. In late January, Agriculture Undersecretary Bill Northey said “maybe $8 billion” would be paid.

USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson says payments could fall short of the $9.6 billion maximum because some producers would not apply and others would hit the payment limit of $125,000. “Probably both items are at play,” he says. A soybean grower could reach the maximum payment with U.S. average yields on a bit less than 1,500 acres. 

As expected, soybeans, with a payment rate of $1.65 a bushel, dominated payments in the days before the filing deadline, followed by corn, wheat, dairy, and sorghum. Illinois and Iowa, the top two soybean producers, led the nation in payments. Kansas, Minnesota, and Nebraska rounded out the top five states. Around 805,000 MFP applications were filed by early February for $7.64 billion in estimated payments.

The MFP payments, nicknamed Trump Tariff Payments, are the major element in an administration package that included $1.2 billion in purchases of surplus food and $200 million in grants to farm and export groups to find new overseas markets. Officials said up to $12 billion was available. The total may be notably smaller.

This article was produced in collaboration with the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an independent, nonprofit news organization producing investigative reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

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