Iowa Public Television

 

Federal cash infusion on the way for farmers; money won't stop drought

posted on May 26, 2000


IN FARM COUNTRY, THE LONG-RANGE IMPACT OF INTEREST RATE HIKES TOOK A BACK SEAT THIS WEEK TO THE SHORT-TERM EFFECT OF A MASSIVE INFUSION OF CASH, COURTESY OF AN ELECTION-MINDED CONGRESS.

CITING EVERYTHING FROM DROUGHT TO THREE CONSECUTIVE YEARS OF LOW PRICES, LAWMAKERS THIS WEEK APPROVED A 15-BILLION DOLLAR PACKAGE OF ELECTION YEAR ASSISTANCE FOR AMERICA'S FARMERS.

MORE THAN 5-BILLION DOLLARS OF THE MONEY WOULD BE DISBURSED BY SEPTEMBER 30TH , IN THE FORM OF DIRECT PAYMENTS TO FARMERS QUALIFYING FOR MARKET TRANSITION PAYMENTS.

ANOTHER 1.5 BILLION DOLLARS OF THE MONEY WOULD GO TO A VARIETY OF COMMODITIES INCLUDING SOYBEANS, PEANUTS, AND TOBACCO WHICH DO NOT QUALIFY FOR MARKET TRANSITION PAYMENTS.

AND MORE THAN 8-BILLION DOLLARS WOULD BE EARMARKED FOR REDUCING PREMIUMS ON FEDERALLY SUBSIDIZED CROP INSURANCE OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS ALREADY PAID FARMERS 15-BILLION DOLLARS IN ASSISTANCE OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS, YET THE AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT ESTIMATES NET FARM INCOME WOULD DROP 16-PERCENT WITHOUT ANOTHER ROUND OF AID.

IF THERE'S A SILVER LINING IN CLOUDS THAT YIELD LITTLE RAIN, IT PROBABLY LIES IN THE FACT THAT SPRING PLANTING IS WRAPPING UP WELL AHEAD OF SCHEDULE.

NATIONALLY, 96-PERCENT OF THE CORN HAS BEEN PLANTED... NEARLY 20 PERCENTAGE POINTS AHEAD OF THE AVERAGE PACE.

SIMILAR PRODUCTIVITY ABOUNDS IN AMERICA'S SOYBEAN FIELDS WHERE 74-PERCENT OF THE CROP IS IN THE GROUND... TWICE THE AMOUNT THAT ORDINARILY WOULD HAVE BEEN PLANTED AT THIS TIME.

72-PERCENT OF THIS YEAR'S COTTON CROP HAS BEEN PLANTED, UP NEARLY 20 PERCENTAGE POINTS FROM LAST WEEK, AND 95-PERCENT OF THE SPRING WHEAT HAS BEEN SOWN... AGAIN, WELL AHEAD OF AVERAGE PACE.

WHILE THE DROUGHT HAS ACCELERATED PLANTING, IT'S WREAKING HAVOC IN SOUTHERN AND MIDWESTERN STATES.

IN TEXAS, 88-PERCENT OF THE WINTER WHEAT CROP IS RATED IN THE FAIR TO VERY POOR RANGE AND 68-PERCENT OF THE PASTURE AND RANGE LAND IS RATED JUST AS BAD.

AND IN NEBRASKA, WHERE RAINFALL IN MANY AREAS IS 40-60 PERCENT BELOW NORMAL, STATE OFFICIALS ARE URGING SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE DAN GLICKMAN TO EXPEDITE THE RELEASE OF C-R-P LAND FOR HAYING AND GRAZING.

A STUDY BY THREE UNIVERSITIES CONCLUDES FLUCTUATIONS IN CROP PRICE, YIELD AND FARM INCOME OVER THE PAST 30 YEARS CAN BE LINKED TO GLOBAL WARMING. THE STUDY FOUND THAT WARMER WINTERS AND GREATER EXTREMES, SUCH AS SUMMER DROUGHT, HAVE HAD A SUBSTANTIAL IMPACT ON U.S. FARM PRODUCTION.

THE STUDY'S AUTHORS SAY VARIATIONS IN YIELDS HAVE BECOME MORE EXTREME SINCE THE 1970s. WARMER TEMPERATURES RESULTING FROM GLOBAL WARMING, THEY SAY, COULD EVENTUALLY SHIFT THE CENTERS OF PRODUCTION FOR SOME OF THE NATION'S MAJOR CROPS.


Tags: agriculture bailouts drought Farm Bill farmers money news