The 2014 Farm Bill offers landowners and farmers two major programs to choose from for the five-year period that began in 2014 and extends through 2018. Since one of the programs has two options, there are really three choices.
The choices are ARC-County where possible government payments are based on county data, ARC-individual, where payments are tied to your own farm and PLC.
The ARC programs are called shallow loss programs because they help cover the gap between what crop insurance might cover and total loss. They don't totally fill the gap, and they aren't directly tied to crop insurance.
FSA specialist Carl Schweikhardt says you don't have to have crop insurance to choose any of the farm program choices, including ARC- County.
The sticking point on ARC-individual is that payments drop to 65% instead of 85%, experts note. That may cause people to shy away from that option.
Purdue ag economist Jim Mintert has said that people need to look at all three options. However, he believes most people will likely determine that ARC County may be the best choice for them. However, he says there are cases where PLC might fit. Someone who is particularly pessimistic about future cop prices through 2018 might be drawn to PLC, for example. It is not a shallow loss program, with payments triggered by nation al average crop prices.
The story circulating at rural coffee shops is that few farmers are looking to take PLC, not because Mintert says so, but because of their own theory. If you don't elect any option but are in the program, then the default program selected by the government is PLC.
"If the government is using it as the default program, then I'm going to pick anything but that one!" one farmer told us. It appears to be a common sentiment in the countryside.
If you needed more proof that people distrust government these days, this just might be it.