Farmers can get federal aid

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 25, 2000

Federal cash payments will help county tobacco farmers suffering from quota reductions this year – but only if they sign up, officials said.

Friday, August 25, 2000

Federal cash payments will help county tobacco farmers suffering from quota reductions this year – but only if they sign up, officials said.

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Applications for the 2000 Tobacco Assistance Program must be filed by Sept. 1, said Jim Herrell, director at Gallia-Lawrence Farm Service Agency.

"Everybody’s entitled to this assistance, whether their crops are good or bad," Herrell said, adding that not all who are eligible have signed up.

A person is eligible if that person owns, operates or produces tobacco on a farm for the 2000 crop year, he said.

The assistance program provides direct payments to growers and quota holders to help them defray income losses caused by this year’s quota reducation.

This spring, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reduced the amount of tobacco farmers could grow by about 45 percent. And cross-county leasing opened the market and reduced some lease prices.

Officials predicted then that Lawrence County farmers could lose an estimated 200,000 pounds of growable tobacco, which would have brought about $1.90 to $2 a pound.

The effect of that loss – coupled with poor growing conditions this summer – can be seen around Lawrence County, farm officials say.

Many farmers are telling people this is their last year growing tobacco, said Matt Capper of Lawrence County Soil and Water in Linnville.

In some cases, crop production, and therefore the income, has been cut in half or worse, Capper said.

Although tobacco farmers might have many obstacles before them now, they should sign up for this year’s assistance program, Herrell said.

The cash payments, which should reach farmers between Oct. 1 and Oct. 20, can help offset the quota reduction burden, he said.

For the assistance program, the farm must receive Planted and Considered Planted Credit for the 2000 crop year to be eligible, Herrell said.

The farm that leases their quota away will be eligible for a payment but the farm that did not lease and did not plant tobacco will not receive a payment, he said.

Additional information about the federal assistance is available at local FSA offices or on the web at:

Lawrence County tobacco farmers can also look forward to another cross-county leasing vote this year.

Ohio will hold a new state referendum among active burley growers between Oct. 23 and Oct. 27 to determine if cross-county leasing should be permitted, Herrell said.

Three other states – Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana – will hold similar votes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported.

All four states are states in which previous referenda on the subject have produced a vote in favor of such leasing.

The second vote was mandated after Congress clarified legal matters in the recently enacted Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000, Public Law 106-224, the USDA said.

It specifies that a majority of those voting, as opposed to a majority of those that could have voted, will be sufficient to determine the outcome of cross-county leasing referenda.

Because of a controversy, and because of the permissive nature of the Department’s authority to approve cross-county leasing under Section 319 after a sufficient approving vote, and in light of the newest amendment to Section 319, USDA will conduct referenda in the four states in which such leasing has been previously approved, federal officials said.

This should avoid any future complaints that would otherwise apply to the outcome of previous refrerenda and allow producers in the four states to express themselves once more on this issue, the USDA said.

The status of the 2000 crop year leasing in the three states added to Section 319 in 1999 (Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana) remains a matter in litigation at this time.

In the new vote, if more than 50 percent of eligible burley tobacco producers voting in a state referendum favor cross-county leasing, then the lease and transfer of a burley quota from one farm to any other farm in that state would be permitted.

If 50 percent or more of the producers voting in the state referendum disapprove, the lease and transfer of burley poundage quota will continue only for leases and transfers within the same counties.