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Time to make farm bill program elections

Indiana Farm Service Agency specialists clarify questions related to signing up.

Tom J Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

February 20, 2020

2 Min Read
soybean field
DOUBLE-CROP QUESTIONS: This field was planted to double-crop soybeans on July 4, even though there were still a few wet spots. If you’re in a county where double-crop soybeans are an approved practice but you couldn’t plant them, it won’t affect ARC-Individual calculations.

The countdown is on until the final day to sign up for farm bill programs for the 2019 program year. Sign-up for this USDA program, which is done at your Farm Service Agency office, ends March 15.

Some advisers have suggested waiting until March so you have more information about possible price trends before selecting which program you want your farms in for the 2019 program year. Your three choices are Agriculture Risk Coverage-County, Payment Loss Coverage and ARC-Individual.

Steve Brown, director of the Indiana FSA, urges you not to wait. He emphasizes that it’s important to contact your local office and make an appointment for sign-up as soon as possible.

“The process takes time, and our staff won’t be able to serve everyone properly if too many people wait until the last minute,” Brown says. “We feel the best advice is to learn as much as you can about the options, then make an appointment and visit with local office personnel. Make your choices and sign up.”

Various questions have come up about individual situations and about the programs as growers have begun the process of signing up. Here are a few of those. Brown and Kaitlin Myers, FSA state program specialist, provide answers.

The signup now is for the 2019 program year, correct? Is there another deadline for the 2020 program year? Yes, the deadline for the 2020 program year is June 30, 2020. However, you can sign up for both 2019 and 2020 at the same time if you wish. Also, whichever elections you make for 2019 must be the same elections you choose for 2020.

Related:Answers clarify farm bill questions

I’ve picked up cash-rented land farmed by someone else in 2019. I assume that person will make elections for the 2019 program year. Will I have to make those same elections for 2020? The tenant who farmed the land in 2019 must sign up and make elections among the program choices for 2019. Yes, you must abide by whatever choices that person makes when you sign up for the 2020 program year.  

Suppose a producer planted wheat and harvested it in 2019. He was prevented from planting double-crop soybeans because of wet soils. His county is an approved double-crop county. If he considers the ARC-Individual program, will those prevented planting double-crop acres factor in? Let’s look at how ARC-Individual would work in this situation. The prevent plant acres would not be accounted for in the actual revenue calculations in this situation. Here’s why: Since wheat was planted and is the initial crop on the farm, revenue calculation on this farm would be based off the wheat.

Are rules about double-crop soybeans the same in all counties? No. Since this practice is more accepted in the southern half of the state, it is an approved practice as far as FSA goes in some counties in the state, and not in other counties. Check with your local FSA office for clarification if you have questions about double-crop soybeans.  

About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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