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American Society of Farm Mangers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) Washington Consultant Steve Frerich reports:

For those of you planning budgets for your clients for 2013 the issue of whether direct payments will be made for the 2013 crop is critical.

While addressing the American Farm Bureau Federation members during its annual meeting, Secretary Vilsack said USDA will make 2013 direct payments in the fall of 2013.

But he also mused that Congress could use the direct payment budget authority as a tool to cut the deficit before next fall, adding some uncertainty about whether the program will stay in place for the 2013 crop.

In response, House Agriculture Chairman Lucas issued a statement last week saying: "While farmers and ranchers have been denied the five years of certainty a new farm bill would provide, folks in Washington need to stop the guessing game about farm policy for the 2013 crop year, especially with respect to direct payments.

"The existing safety net was extended a year to provide the certainty producers need for the 2013 crop year. This is the law of the land. Anyone familiar with the business of agriculture knows that producers across the country are making spring planting decisions and securing operating loans as we speak.

"And, I fully expect sign-up for the 2013 crop year - including direct payments - to begin as soon as possible. I assure you that the five-year farm bill that we will mark up in my Committee will honor the commitment Congress made to growers when it extended the 2008 farm bill to cover the 2013 crop year."

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