One of the longest saga's in the Farm Service Agency's long list of past and present government programs comes to a head today. Either you sign your acreage up into ACRE today, or you don't, and gamble on receiving whatever future programs offer. ACRE stands for average crops revenue election program.
A part of the most recent farm bill, it's an option that has been perhaps the hardest to understand and the toughest for experts to explain to farmers of any programs in recent history. But Rick Kelly of Indiana FSA says it all comes down to today. The only way your chance to sign up could extend beyond today, without further intervention from USDA and/or Congress, would be if you're unable to sign up because the local office is swamped, and grants you the opportunity to visit the office after today for sign-up into ACRE.
How many farmers will sign up is anybody's guess. Most experts are hedging that sign-up will be on the low side. However, faltering grain prices may cause some producers to take a last look at this option. If that includes you, look quickly- today is your last day to get to your FSA office if you decide you want to participate in this program.
Part of the complex nature of ACRE comes because levels that trigger the program to kick in vary state by state. Some USDA programs administered by FASA have the same triggers across the country. Another feature giving some producer's second thoughts is that once you elect to participate in ACRE and sign on the dotted line, you're committed to stay with that program. You can't switch back and forth, or in effect go in and out of the ACRE option. It's a 'do-it-now for ever or don't do-it-know forever' type of decision.
With ACRE, payments are tied to current plantings on the farm instead of the farm's base acres, based on history on that farm. But if you sing into ACRE, you forgo counter-cyclical payments and agree to a 20% reduction in direct payments, plus a 30% reduction in marketing assistance loan rates for all commodities produced on your farm.
It's no wonder many farmers have waited until the last minute to decide whether to participate or not. Just make sure that if you don't sign up today, it's because you made a conscientious decision not to, deciding this program is not in your best interest, not because you intended to, but forgot about the sign-up date? Today is the day!