FINALLY Disaster Package Passes Congress

On Monday, the House finally passed the long awaited disaster funding. The Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill before the Memorial Day break and we had to wait until Monday while staunch fiscal conservative members from various states held up the matter three times in. The House passed the measure by a 354-58. All Democrats and a vast majority of republicans voted for the bill. The roll call vote can be found here.

The bill included $5.5 Billion for agriculture including the hurricanes in the SE and wildfires out west but also the flooding earlier this year in the mid-west. Details of the program aren’t out yet but the program that most of our producers will be working with is the WHIP program. This is a slightly better version of the WHIP from the 2017 crop with some slight changes to the whip factor.

Other news sources will have more detailed information as the rules are written and the program is implemented. We had been waiting on this so long, we wanted to make sure you knew this was moving forward finally. I’m a bit late getting this out as Andy and I are both in MS teaching at gin school this week.

Disaster Bill Passed—-Almost

After several weeks of negotiation and haggling between the House, Senate and White House, a compromise on the long-awaited disaster bill finally came through YESTERDAY. The House passed a bill late last week and the Senate finally worked things out and passed their own version of a 19 Billion dollar bill. All indications are that the President has agreed to sign the bill. Everything had been on track to get the bill passed before the Memorial Day Break UNTIL….

The House had to agree on the Senate passed bill rather than sending the bill to conference. It had been expected that since the Senate bill was substantially similar to the House passed bill that a Unanimous Consent vote could be taken for final passage but there wasn’t unanimous consent. A lone congressman from Texas, Chip Roy, expressed objection to the the unanimous consent and therefore blocked passage of the bill for today. Most of the House and the Senate left for a week long break yesterday. There is no way to take a voice vote today.

While there is a technical possibility to have another unanimous consent vote next year, the consensus seems to be that there will be a vote after they return in 10 days. It is largely expected that the bill will pass when they return by a significant margin but as we’ve seen before in the Congress, nothing is etched in stone.

We will likely have to wait to see what happens in what seems to have turned into a soap opera type never ending saga of this disaster bill. Stay Tuned.

In the mean time, we hope you and your family have a great Memorial Day weekend!

DSF

Second MFP Announced

In response to the lack of progress on trade negotiations and the increasing tariffs that China has imposed on US commodities, the USDA has announced a second Market Facilitation Program. The first MFP was for the 2018 crop while this one will be for the 2019 crop. While the 2018 program was based on production of affected commodities, this one will be based on planted acres.

The program, as we understand it right now, will be based on 2019 combined plantings of affected commodities (including cotton) regardless of the acreage of each commodity planted. Each county will get a per acre per county payment and will be limited to a maximum of your 2018 plantings. This is being done so as not to affect the planting decisions of a given commodity.

The program will be delivered in up to three tranches where the first one will be set soon and the second and third will be based on market and tariff conditions. Once USDA plantings are set in mid July the payments will be determined for the first tranche.

More information can be found in the USDA press release found here:

https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2019/05/23/usda-announces-support-farmers-impacted-unjustified-retaliation-and

DSF

SSA No-Match Guidance

In the past few weeks the Social Security Administration began sending out letters to employers informing them of a number of names that didn’t match the social security numbers submitted in the employer’s wage statements. The SSA hadn’t sent these letters our for nearly a decade. This year’s letters are significantly different from years’ past in that they didn’t contain any information on specific employees in most cases.

The National Council of Ag Employers along with other organizations was provided guidance on how to handle these letters. Please follow the link below to that guidance. The guidance gives a couple different paths you can take in responding to the letters. Read the guidance carefully multiple times before deciding what route to follow. None are wrong.

Please give us a call if you have any questions.

DSF

GUIDANCE ON HOW TO HANDLE SSA NO-MATCH LETTERS

SSA No-Match Letters Going Out

This is just a quick note to make you aware that the Social Security Administration has begun sending out letters to employers commonly known as No-Match letters. These letters were commonplace a decade ago but the SSA stopped sending them out in about 2011.

These letters do not tell you exactly which employees have names and social security numbers that don’t match. They only typically tell you to go to a SSA website to find out who they are. They encourage you to use a system on the site that checks the names and numbers. We are in the process of gathering more information and formulating a proper response to these letters.

We will post a longer article soon or contact gins directly regarding the response employers should have in reaction to these letters. In the meantime please let us know if you received an SSA No-Match letter. More to follow.

Disaster Bill Setback – Not Dead

I promised an update to the situation in the Senate when something happened. I waited a few days to see if anything would come of the setback Monday. Here’s where it looks like we stand right now. The farm press and general press have covered the failure of the Senate to pass a cloture vote on Monday this week. That vote would have ended debate on an amendment that replaced the House passed disaster bill with one that was very similar to the bill Senators Perdue, Isakson, Jones and Shelby had crafted. Unfortunately that cloture vote didn’t pass but the vote DID NOT KILL THE BILL as has been reported. I will add that watching the vote Monday, Senator Schumer was the one that cast the deciding vote for non passage. Sixty votes pass so forty-one kills it. He cast the forty-first vote against. If you think this is really about Puerto Rico you’re sadly mistaken.

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