United States Department of Agriculture began distribution on Sept. 1 of $5.466 billion in emergency economic assistance approved by Congress. USDA will make payments in an amount equivalent to the 1999 Agriculture Market Transition Act (AMTA) payment rate (7.88 cents per pound) to eligible operators and owners who received a final fiscal year 2000 production flexibility (PFC) payment--also known as AMTA payment. Payments will be made automatically to eligible recipients who will not have to file additional forms or visit a Farm Service Agency office.

"With low crop prices and high fuel costs, many producers will not make back the cost of preparing, planting and delivering the work of an entire season," House Agriculture Committee Chairman Combest (R-TX) said following the USDA announcement. "September's additional transition payment delivers on our financial commitment to producers with a timely and meaningful result."

In addition, beginning Oct. 1, eligible owners and operators may request regularly scheduled fiscal 2001 PFC/AMTA payments. Eligible farmers can choose a single payment or two equal payments at any time during the fiscal year. Those who do not choose an option will receive the payment at the end of the 2001 fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2001).

The legislation authorizing market loss assistance payments also provides $100 million for cottonseed assistance which likely will be paid at the conclusion of the 2000 season using similar procedure as was used to distribute cottonseed assistance for the 1999 crop.

As a reminder, legislation passed in May also provides that 2000 crop of upland cotton, grain and oilseeds produced on farm not enrolled in a production flexibility contract will be eligible for a loan deficiency payment (LDP).

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