Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced 2005-crop corn, grain sorghum, and soybean national and county loan rates.

“This is the earliest we have announced marketing assistance county loan rates for these commodities.” Johanns said. “This exemplifies our commitment to providing timely information to enable producers to better utilize these programs in their planting and marketing decisions.”

After enactment of the 2002 farm bill, USDA announced the most comprehensive adjustments in more than 15 years to the county loan rate structure, beginning with the 2002 crops. Because adjustments in county loan rates had not been made for grains for several years, disparities between loan rates and market prices had emerged.

The restructured rates were intended to more clearly reflect market factors affecting each crop and minimize distortions that work to the detriment of producers and industry.

The 2005-crop county loan rates continue the incremental adjustments. The relative levels of the county loan rates for each commodity reflect the most recent information available about price relationships around the country and will enhance the market orientation of the corn, grain sorghum, and soybean loan and loan deficiency payment programs, according to USDA.

In establishing the 2005-crop rates, USDA said it paid special attention to reducing notable loan rate differences among neighboring counties that are not the result of current market forces. The updated county loan rates reflect changes that have occurred in cropping and marketing patterns over the years.

The 2002 farm bill establishes the 2005-crop national average loan rates at the following levels: corn, $1.95 per bushel; grain sorghum, $1.95 per bushel; soybeans $5 per bushel. The 2005-crop county loan rates for corn, grain sorghum and soybeans are available on the Farm Service Agency Web site: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/dafp/psd/LoanRate.htm. County loan rates for wheat, barley, oats and other oilseeds are also available on this site.