The U.S. Department of Agriculture has begun issuing nearly $2 million in fiscal year 2012 payments through a program that assists farmers and producers in U.S. territories who paid to transport either an agricultural commodity or input used to produce it.
The USDA announced the sign-up period for the fiscal year 2013 program begins on July 22 and ends Sept. 9.
“All farmers and ranchers face challenges but U.S. farmers and ranchers who are not on the mainland have a real competitive disadvantage when it’s time to move their products to market,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “These payments help them offset some of their increased transportation cost, which not only helps the producers but also benefits consumers who have access to increased varieties of nutritious food for the family table.”
Authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill and extended for fiscal year 2013 by the 2012 American Taxpayer Relief Act, the Reimbursement Transportation Cost Payment Program for Geographically Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (RTCP) provides payments intended to offset a portion of the costs to transport agricultural inputs and commodities over long distances. The program specifically helps farmers and ranchers in Alaska, Hawaii and insular areas including Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau.
RTCP benefits are calculated based on the costs incurred by the producer for transportation of the agricultural commodity or inputs during a fiscal year, subject to an $8,000 per producer cap per fiscal year, USDA explained. Payments to these “geographically disadvantaged” farmers and ranchers for fiscal year 2012 began June 28. “Because total fiscal year 2012 claims exceeded available funding, a payment factor of 0.7662762 will be applied to program payments for all applicants,” the department said.