Farmers in Tipton County are set to receive the highest payout rates in Indiana as part of the second round of aid money provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA last week announced details of the $16 billion package aimed at supporting American agricultural producers to offset dismal crop prices following President Donald Trump's ongoing tariff war with China.

Farmers will have access to the money through the Market Facilitation Program, which last year provided $8.5 billion in trade assistance payments to U.S. farmers based on how individual commodities were harmed by the Trump administration’s trade disputes.

This year, the payouts are based on a flat county payment rate based on the impact of “unjustified trade retaliation in that county,” according to the USDA. The single county rate is multiplied by a farm’s total plantings of eligible crops in 2019. Those crops include corn, soybeans and hay.

Tipton County has the highest single rate in the state at $80 per acre. Spencer County has the second highest rate with $77. Howard County has the third highest rate with $76. Carroll County's rate is 72; Cass is $65, Fulton in $60 and Miami is $69.

Nationally, county payout rates range from $15 to $150 per acre. The lowest rate in Indiana is in Starke County, which has been set at $44.

The flat rate payouts have the potential to funnel tens of millions of dollars to local farmers. Based on planted acres in 2017, farmers in these counties could receive in total more than $33 million in payments if famers file claims for all their acreage.

However, planted acres this year likely will be substantially lower than 2017 numbers, since consistently wet weather this spring led to fewer acres being planted across the state.

The program also caps payments at $250,000 per person or legal entity for crops. The cap is $500,000 per person or legal entity that also files claims for specialty crops and dairy and hog assistance.

But even with fewer acres planted and the payment caps, the new round of aid money is set to be a boon for local farmers, some of whom are struggling to turn a profit due to low crop prices and a terrible planting season.

“For local farmers, it means some of them will actually make some money in a year where the margins are pretty slim,” said Howard County Extension Educator Mathias Ingle. “For some farmers, it will be a huge deal. It will give them an opportunity to continue farming.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the aid package is meant to “ensure farmers will not stand alone in facing unjustified retaliatory tariffs while President Trump continues working to solidify better and stronger trade deals around the globe.”

“Our team at USDA reflected on what worked well and gathered feedback on last year’s program to make this one even stronger and more effective for farmers,” he said in a release. “Our farmers work hard, are the most productive in the world, and we aim to match their enthusiasm and patriotism as we support them.”

Farmers could begin signing up for the payments on Monday at local Farm Service Agency offices. Signup will continue through Dec. 6. Eligible crops and cover crops must be planted by Aug. 1 to qualify for the payments.

The Market Facilitation Program last year overwhelmingly benefited farmers in five Midwestern states, including Indiana, which in total claimed almost half of the $8.5 billion in payouts.

Illinois led the way in receiving over $1.1 billion, the only state in the country to top $1 billion. Iowa was second with nearly $986 million.
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