Agriculture Secretary John Block expects heavy participation by US farmers in the administration's payment-in-kind (PIK) program, although the final figures won't be released until March 22, Monitor correspondent Jonathan Harsch reports. The deadline to sign up for the program, which distributes surplus grain and cotton to farmers who agree to withhold some of their land from production, was March 11.
Speaking the same day to some 4,000 farm leaders gathered here, Mr. Block said he saw a twin victory in the PIK program: giving farmers a guaranteed ''harvest'' of government surplus grain and reducing government storage costs. The surplus stocks ''in many ways have become a liability, not an asset,'' Block said.
He also told the conference of Production Credit Associations that the PIK program is proof that the Reagan administration is taking positive and effective steps to improve the farm economy. Congress recently passed special tax legislation to allay farmers' concerns that signing up for PIK might sock them with an extra income tax burden this year.