Wednesday, June 05, 2019

A Thought for FSA Personnel

Chris Clayton of Progressive Farmer has tweeted asking USDA for answers on prevented planting.

I  expressed doubts as to whether leadership could make fast, good decisions.  That's not necessarily a criticism of Sec. Perdue and his team--I wouldn't have had great confidence in the capability of any of the leadership teams during my time at agriculture.  It seems to me the prevented planting issue has spun up very quickly, more quickly than I can remember situations in the past.  With MFP1 there was a longish lead up, during which the analysis people could get their acts together and the implementation people in DC and KC could get prepared.  MFP2 is different, although to the extent it covers 2019 production there won't be that much impact.  Where it's key is on the plant/no plant/change crop decision.(

Another factor is FSA doesn't have recent experience with prevented planting.  Back in my early days in the agency the disaster program included PP. Then, as FSA  was phased out of the disaster business in favor of crop insurance, we lost that institutional memory.  The inclusion of PP in crop insurance policies means the implementation process is going to be more complicated than it was in the old days.)

(Can't resist noting that the combination of Trump's trade war and flooding has undercut the idea that crop insurance could mean the end of ad hoc disaster programs.)

Bottom line: FSA personnel in DC trying to implement whatever decisions are made are having a bad few weeks.  FSA personnel in the field are in worse shape: face to face with farmers desperate for information to make their decisions and lacking the direction from DC.   

My sympathy for both groups, but particularly the field.

No comments: