Following the USDA’s COVID relief announcement, Pro Farmer Policy Analyst Jim Wiesemeyer thinks the biggest takeaway for farmers is the top-up payments for livestock and crops. Those are being run through already existing programs. “USDA can mail out checks without taking additional applications.” However, USDA is not increasing payment caps, something farm state lawmakers wanted. “Previously, it was estimated the livestock top-up would require $2 billion and now, the USDA is only estimating $1.1 billion will be spent. That’s about 45 percent less than Congress tells me they intended.” There is criticism from larger livestock groups on the payment limits. Wiesemeyer thinks the USDA could have adjusted the payment rates. USDA may have also decided to go this route to give money to other areas that hadn’t previously received COVID aid.
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