Farm operators are facing one more important deadline for the ARC/PLC Farm Program for the 2014 and 2015 crop years. They need to enroll in the farm program for 2014 and 2015 at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office by Sept. 30, 2015, in order to be eligible for farm program payments for those two years. Failure to enroll in the farm program by Sept. 30 could cost producers thousands of dollars in lost farm program payments.
The deadline for farm operators to select their 5-year (2014-2018) farm program choice was March 31, 2015. The farm program choices were the Price Loss Coverage program (PLC), the Ag Risk Coverage program based on county yields (ARC-CO), and the Ag Risk Coverage program based on individual farm yields (ARC-IC). Many producers thought that this was the final farm program enrollment time, and that this sign-up would automatically enroll them in the USDA commodity farm programs for the 2014-2018 crop years. However, enrollment in the farm program at local FSA offices is required on an annual basis, in order to be eligible for potential farm program payments.
The current and future farm program enrollment dates are:
- 2014 and 2015 Crop Years --- June 17 to September 30, 2015
- 2016 Crop Year --- December 1, 2015 to August 1, 2016
- 2017 Crop Year --- December 1, 2016 to August 1, 2017
- 2018 Crop Year --- December 1, 2017 to August 1, 2018
When farm operators enroll in the farm program for a given year, they will not be able to change or adjust the 5-year farm program option that they selected for the 2014-2018 crop years for a given crop. For example, if they selected the ARC-CO program for corn and the PLC program for soybeans on a farm unit, they are required to keep those farm program choices each year from 2014 to 2018. However, they must enroll in the farm program at their local FSA office each year in order to be eligible for farm program payments. In addition, producers cannot adjust crop base acres or FSA payment yields at the time of annual farm program enrollment. The base acres and payment yields were set for the 2014-2018 crop years during the original farm program sign-up period, earlier in 2015.
The current USDA estimate for the 2014 market year average (MYA) price for corn is $3.70 per bushel. The estimated 2014 ARC-CO payment for corn in most Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa counties will be at the maximum level, which ranges from $70 to $80 per corn base acre, with slightly lower payment rates in central and northern Minnesota. The 2014 MYA price for corn and soybeans is the national average farm-level price from September 1, 2014 through Aug. 31, 2015, with the 2014 MYA price being finalized on September 30, 2015. Approximately 99% of the corn base acres in Minnesota, and 97% in Iowa, are enrolled in the ARC-CO program.
The current USDA estimate for the 2014 MYA price for soybeans is $10.05 per bushel. At that MYA price, the resulting estimated 2014 ARC-CO payment for soybeans in Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa would range from zero to just over $50.00 per soybean base acre. About half of the counties in that region would get either a partial or maximum payment, depending on the 2014 average county soybean yield, compared to the 5-year county average benchmark yield. Based on the current MYA 2014 price estimates, there will likely be no PLC payment for the 2014 crop year for either corn or soybeans. Over 98% of the soybean base acres in Minnesota and Iowa are enrolled in the ARC-CO program.
A farm operator in Southern Minnesota with a 1,000 acre corn base that is enrolled in the ARC-CO program could potentially be losing $70,000-$80,000, if they fail to enroll in the farm program for 2014 by the September 30 deadline. Depending on the county, that producer could potentially lose another $40,000-$45,000 in 2014 farm program payments, if they also had 1,000 soybean base acres enrolled in the ARC-CO program. The maximum total farm program payment to an individual farm operator is $125,000.00 per year.
Farm operators should contact their local FSA office for more information on farm program enrollment for the 2014 and 2015 crop years.