Sign-up for the new farm program, which part of the new farm bill, is now underway at local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices. The new farm program will be in place for the 2014 to 2018 crop years for all eligible crops under the Commodity Title of the 2014 Farm Bill, including corn, soybeans, wheat and other crops. There are several farm program analysis tools now available to producers and landowners, through various land grant universities, in cooperation with the Farm Service Agency. Local FSA offices are scheduling several informational meetings in the next couple of months, many of which are bring jointly conducted with the land grant universities.
The sign-up process for the new farm program sign-up at local FSA offices will take place in a three-step process:
- Step 1: Now until Feb. 28, 2015: Landowners make final decisions on updating FSA payment yields and reallocating crop base acres on each FSA farm unit.
- Step 2: Now until March 31, 2015: Producers complete the farm program choice on each farm unit, and potentially on each eligible crop. Farm program choices include the Price Loss Coverage (PLC), Agricultural Risk Coverage – County (ARC-CO), or Agricultural Risk Coverage – Individual Coverage (ARC-IC) programs. All farm program payments will be made on the basis of crop base acres. Any potential 2014 farm program payments will not occur until October 2015.
- Step 3: Mid-April to summer 2015: Producers enroll in the 2014 and 2015 farm program simultaneously. Even though the farm program choice (listed earlier) is for five years (2014-2018), producers will still be required to make annual enrollment into the farm program at local FSA offices.
Landowners will make the final decisions at local FSA offices on updating FSA program yields and reallocating crop base acres for each FSA farm unit. If a producer is an owner/operator, they would make the decision on that FSA farm unit. If a FSA farm unit is under a cash rental agreement, the producer would need to work with landowner in order to have input on the final decision. If there are multiple landowners involved on a FSA farm unit, they must agree on updating FSA program yields or reallocating crop base acres. A “no decision” on reallocating crop base acres and FSA payment yields will result in continuation of the existing base acres and payment yields for 2014-2018.
Producers will make the final 5-year farm program choice between PLC, ARC-CO, and ARC-IC for the 2014-2018 crop years. All producers involved in a farm unit will need to agree on the farm program choice. Landowners with crop-share rental agreement are considered producers by FSA. Landlords with cash rental agreements will not be required to sign-off on the farm program decision. In cases, where there is a switch of producers from 2014 to 2015, the producer listed at the FSA office on the farm unit at the time of farm program sign-up would make the program choice. If no farm program choice is made by the sign-up deadline, the farm unit will be enrolled in the PLC program for 2015-2018, and there will be no farm program payments for the 2014 crop year.
USDA is implementing the basic commodity farm programs in the new farm bill for the 2014 crop year, which is now complete. The good news is that all farm sign-up deadlines are well into 2015, so there is some time to review the all the information and run various scenarios on spreadsheets, before making the final farm program decisions. It is important to remember that all farm program decisions are for five years, for the 2014 to 2018 crop years.
Not making the correct base acre, payment yield, or farm program choice could potentially result in loss of significant ARC or PLC payments for corn and soybeans in 2014 and 2015, as well as potential payments in future years. The FSA has created a website with up-to-date information and resources on the various farm program choices. Several land-grant universities have also been designated to develop spreadsheets and decision tools, in cooperation with FSA, to assist producers and landowners with their farm program decisions. Following are the websites for the farm program information, spreadsheets, and other resources:
- FSA ARC/PLC website
- The U of Ill. FarmDoc Farm Bill Toolbox
- The U of Missouri Food & Ag Policy Center
- Texas A & M Ag & Food Policy Center
I have written an information sheet, “New Farm Program Sign-up Details.” To receive a free copy of this e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (507) 726-2137. The University of Minnesota Extension Service is working with the state FSA office to offer over 70 farm program educational meetings for producers. Get a complete list of those meetings.