The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced county loan rates for 2002 crops as required by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002.

The new farm bill restructured national loan rates, thus requires changes in county loan rates. The new county loan rate structure, which provides upward changes in most areas, reflects the most comprehensive adjustments in more than 15 years. The changes are intended to reduce cumulative market distortions and loan deficiency payment (LDP) disparities that have emerged over the years. Some of the existing county loan rates trace to 1985and no longer reflect the geographic pattern of market prices. The exception is soybean loan rates, which generally have been adjusted annually, thus avoiding significant distortions and disparities among local areas.

This restructuring is consistent with guidance provided by Congressional Conferees for the 2002 Act and their expectation that the Secretary would utilize the generally upward changes in national loan rates to revise county loan rates.

The Department's announcement included:

National loan rates for the 2002 wheat crops differentiated by each of five classes of wheat: hard amber durum; hard red spring; hard red winter; soft red winter; and soft white wheat. County loan rates are being updated to reflect recent market price relationships among counties.

Corn, grain sorghum, barley, and oats county loan rates are each being updated to reflect recent market price relationships among counties.

Corn, grain sorghum, and barley terminal markets and differentials (used to calculate alternative loan repayment rates) also are being updated.

National loan rates for the 2002 crops of oilseeds are being differentiated by each of seven different oilseed types: oil-type sunflower seed; other-type sunflower seed; flaxseed; canola; rapeseed; safflower; and mustard seed. County loan rates are being updated to reflect recent market price relationships among counties.

The 2002-crop national loan rates for "other oilseeds" are based on five-year average price relationships among the oilseeds, and are production weighted to equal the statutorily-mandated "other oilseed" loan rate of $0.096 per pound. The 2002-crop national loan rates per pound are:

- Oil-type sunflower seed $0.0915

- Other-type sunflower seed $0.1210

- Flaxseed $0.0698

- Canola $0.0949

- Rapeseed $0.0947

- Safflower $0.1253

- Mustard seed $0.0988

The new law does not mandate a program for crambe and sesame and the Department no longer designates them as loan eligible oilseeds. The Act mandated new loan programs for peanuts and pulses (dry peas, lentils and chickpeas). The loan rates for these crops will be announced in the near future.

Further information on the county loan rates is available from Terry Hickenbotham, USDA-FSA-EPAS, Stop 0508, Room 3745, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250- 0508; via phone at (202) 720-3451; via e-mail at terry_hickenbotham@wdc.usda.gov ; or via fax at (202) 690- 2186.

Copies of the rate schedules are available at www.fsa.usda.gov/dafp/psd/loanrate.htm or from Thomas Fink, USDA-FSA-PSD, Stop 0512, Room 4089A, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-0512; via phone at (202) 720-8701; via e-mail at tom_fink@wdc.usda.gov ; or via fax at (202) 690-3307.