The North Dakota Corn Growers Association and North Dakota Corn Utilization Council are proposing a solution to the ARC-CO yield controversy.
ARC-CO stands for a farm program called Average Revenue Coverage – County. How yields for ARC-CO are established resulted in farmers in Logan, LaMoure, Ransom and Steele counties receiving small or no payments for 2014 when farmers in neighboring counties received significant payments.
The North Dakota corn groups want Farm Service Agency to have the FSA state committee set the average yield for a county when National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) doesn’t report one. Under current rules, FSA has to use Risk Management Agency yields when NASS numbers are available.
Carson Klosterman, NDCGA president; Scott German, NDCUC chairman; and Dale Ihry, North Dakota Corn executive director, recently traveled to Washington and presented the proposal. They met with the North Dakota congressional delegation and National Corn Growers, FSA, RMA and NASS and officials.
“In reviewing yield date while I was at FSA and working on the national ARC/PLC farm bill team, I pointed out to FSA that corn yields in North Dakota from NASS vs RMA data can differ greatly in non-loss years, and generally the RMA yields run higher than the NASS yields,” Ihry says. “As a result, LaMoure County, for example, has benchmark yields based on NASS yield data that ran 5 to 15 bushels per year less than the RMA yields for those same five years. So the benchmark for LaMoure is based on reduced NASS yields. However, in 2014, since LaMoure County did not receive a NASS county yield, FSA in [Washington] set the LaMoure County yield using the RMA yield data at 165 bushels per acre. Similar productive/comparable county NASS yields in Dickey and Sargent Counties were 150 and 146 bushels acre. Our proposal would allow the State Committee to look at Dickey and Sargent County NASS yields in 2014 to set a LaMoure County yield at 148 bushels per acre. The counties north of LaMoure (Stutsman and Barnes) went 121 and 128 bushels per acre, for respectively. For Logan County, the comparable county is McIntosh and the corn yield in McIntosh from NASS in 2014 was 105 bushels per acre, this is where the Logan yield would be assigned rather than an RMA yield of 109 bushels per acre.”
Ihry says North Dakota Corn is not alleging that the RMA yield data is right or wrong, “but RMA yield data was not used to set the benchmark, therefore it ought not be used to set the actual/current year yield and payment rate.”
Klosterman says, “This proposal would assist with yield issues raised by … corn producers for 2014. And would be helpful in 2015, for counties such as McIntosh and Logan, as NASS yields were again missing when released in February of 2016.”
Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union president and former North Dakota agriculture commissioner, recently testified before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management and supported North Dakota Corn’s proposal.