Tester Secures New Program to Cover Crop Quality Loss for Montana Farmers Impacted by Disasters

New Quality Loss Adjustment Program will provide quality loss payments to qualifying Montana producers hit hard by disasters in 2018 and 2019;

After securing $1.5 billion for farmers facing crop losses due to extreme weather and pushing for more than a year to get the relief into the hands of Montana farmers, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Quality Loss Adjustment Program, which will finally provide relief to producers who suffered crop quality losses in 2018 and 2019.

“I’ve been pushing USDA bureaucrats for more than a year to protect get this critical support into the hands of farmers in Northeastern Montana, and I’m pleased to announce that relief is finally on the way,” said Tester. “These independent producers aren’t just the backbone of our state’s economy or our nation’s food supply-they are the bedrock of our way of life in rural America. So while USDA is a year late in providing this disaster relief, I will keep fighting to make sure they aren’t a dollar short when it comes to making Montana family farmers whole or protecting the livelihoods of folks who work in production agriculture.”

The announcement of the USDA’s Quality Loss Adjustment Program comes in direct response to Senator Tester’s recent letter to Farm Service Administrator Richard Fordyce excoriating over the delay in rolling out payments for crop losses and demanding that he provide immediate relief to Montana producers.

The Program will be open for signups from January 6 through March 5 to producers in a county with a disaster declaration in 2018 or 2019 and who are able to demonstrate a 5 percent quality loss. More information about the program and how producers can apply for relief is available HERE.

Since September 2019, Tester has been fighting to get relief for producers in Eastern Montana facing quality losses due to excessive rain and flooding in the region, and he repeatedly pushed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to use his authority to support these farmers through the existing WHIP+ guidelines. When Secretary Perdue refused, Tester used the 2019 omnibus appropriations bill to expand the WHIP+ program to include quality loss, drought, and excessive moisture and increased its funding by $1.5 billion to cover the new categories, and USDA subsequently issued a disaster declaration for 17 Montana counties.

Tester was the only member of Montana’s delegation to vote for the legislation containing the fix.

But while the Farm Service Agency (FSA) opened signup for disaster assistance for producers to apply for eligible losses of drought (D3 or above) and excessive moisture, USDA did not make disaster relief available for producers facing quality losses until now.