Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, alerted the hill March 20 that the Department will reduce payments received earlier this year due to sequestration. The reductions are primarily in three programs: Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC), Supplemental Revenue Assistance (SURE) and Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), and won’t exceed 8.5 percent. Instead of asking farmers to pay back the money they’ve already received, the Department plans to take the cut out of future direct payments. If a farmer is not receiving a direct payment this year – yet has already received a payment from one of the three programs mentioned – it is speculated that those producers would be put on a credit ledger, and any future payments will be reduced.
According to guidelines sent out by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), there is a 30 day Congressional notification period that must pass before the FSA can move forward with this plan. Therefore, payments in MILC, SURE, and NAP will be deferred for the next 30 days. Once the 30 days are up, FSA intends to resume making full payments for the suspended programs.