The U.S. Department of Agriculture has begun issuing approximately $1.996 million in fiscal year 2012 payments through a program that assists farmers and producers outside the contiguous United States who paid to transport either an agricultural commodity or an input used to produce an agricultural commodity.
The sign-up period for the fiscal year 2013 program begins on July 22.
“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,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “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 FY 2013 by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, the Reimbursement Transportation Cost Payment Program for Geographically Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (RTCP) provides payments intended to offset a portion of the higher costs of transporting agricultural inputs and commodities over long distances. The program assists farmers and ranchers in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Republic of Palau. Producers in Alaska, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are also eligible to participate in the program.
Reimbursement of Transportation Costs Payment Program 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. Payments to geographically disadvantaged farmers and ranchers for FY 2012 began June 28, 2013; however, because total claims exceeded available funding, a payment factor of 0.7662762 was applied to program payments for all applicants.
Farm Service Agency’s Hawaii and the Pacific Basin State Executive Director, Diane Ley noted, “In FY 2012, there were 362 producers in the region that chose to participate, with payments totaling $797,821.92. Producers are encouraged to save their business receipts as signup for FY 2013 will begin on July 22, 2013, and end on September 9, 2013.”
For benefits, applicants must file their RTCP application Form FSA-218, in their administrative county FSA office no later than September 9, 2013. An electronic version of Form FSA-218 can be found by visiting the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov and clicking on the “Forms” tab at the top of the web page. Applicants will have until November 4, 2013, to provide supporting documentation of actual costs of transporting agricultural inputs and commodities in Fiscal Year 2013 (October 1, 2012 – September 30, 2013) to the FSA county office.
For more information on the RTCP program, farmers and ranchers in eligible areas can call their local FSA county office or go online at www.fsa.usda.gov/pricesupport or view the 2013 RTCP Fact Sheet at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/rtcp_2013.pdf. (USDA)