Correction: Farm Bill-North Dakota story

July 11, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — In a story July 6 about farm programs and foreign trade, The Associated Press, based on information from the Bismarck Tribune, reported erroneously that the North Dakota Farmers Union is seeking adjustments to crop insurance. The group is seeking changes to a different farm program called Price Loss Coverage, not the separate crop insurance program.

A corrected version of the story is below:

North Dakota farmers seek change in crop program payments

North Dakota’s largest farm group is pushing for adjustments to crop program payments to protect farmers from international trade retaliations

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s largest farm group is pushing for adjustments to crop program payments to protect farmers from international trade retaliations.

The U.S. House and Senate versions of a new farm bill are headed to a conference committee. The North Dakota Farmers Union sees the bill as an opportunity to raise reference prices for the Price Loss Coverage program, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

“We should do it now,” said Mark Watne, president of the group. “If you want to keep us whole, this is the best tool.”

Price Loss Coverage, or PLC, is a safety net program that provides payments when a commodity’s marketing year average price falls below the reference price set by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill. The marketing year average is determined through U.S. Department of Agriculture survey data from about 1,900 mills and elevators across the country of how much they paid for a given crop. Producers are then paid the difference.

Farmers are facing an unfriendly market as negotiations for new agreements with U.S. trade partners flounder. Canada announced new tariffs this week and China imposed $34 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products Friday.

″(President Donald Trump) has instructed me to craft a strategy to support our farmers in the face of retaliatory tariffs,” wrote Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “At the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we have tools at our disposal to support farmers faced with losses that might occur due to downturns in commodities markets.”

Many producer groups expressed interest in Watne’s proposal, which he said would trigger earlier payments. The House and Senate have done work on another major farm subsidy program, called Agriculture Risk Coverage, which is based on yields, but there are oilseed and wheat producers in North Dakota who opted for PLC who could benefit, Watne said.

North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said the proposal is a new idea and that she was unsure whether it would be addressed in conference committee.

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