USDA is testing a new program that will allow farmers to receive program payments via the internet, according to Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman.

The pilot program will allow producers in selected counties in 21 states to receive loan deficiency payments (LDPs) via the Internet. Veneman says the new program is part of implementing the new Farm Bill using electronic services to the extent feasible.

"Our hope is that we can institutionalize this type of technology as we implement the new Farm Bill," says Veneman. "This type of service would save time and resources that producers now spend in USDA offices. Our hope is that this pilot program will move us closer in that regard."

The 21 counties in which the pilot program is being implemented are: Cross County, AR; Cass County, IL; Adams County, IN; Jasper County, IA; Marshall County, KS; Christian County, KY; East Carroll County, LA; Jackson County, MI; Lyon County, MN; Nodaway County, MO; Chouteau County, MT; York County, NE; Sampson County, NC; Cass County, ND; Sandusky County, OH; Texas County, OK; Northumberland County, PA; Spink County, SD; Obion County, TN; Collin County, TX and Jefferson County, WI.

Producers using the new e-LDP service will no longer need to come into USDA offices to get their LDPs. They will be able to apply for and receive LDPs from their homes when it’s convenient for them. Besides saving producers time traveling to and from county offices, applying online will eliminate paperwork and speed up payment processing. The service has stringent security measures to protect participants’ private information.

"We are finding that more and more of our producers are using the Internet. This enables us to provide faster, more efficient and accurate services to the Nation’s farmers," Veneman says.