Progress on every title of the 2014 Farm Bill has been made in the year since its passage on Feb. 7, 2014, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said Thursday.
Vilsack offered a detailed update on the farm bill, along with a fact sheet showing efforts made by the agency to reach out to farmers and families affected by the bill's changes.
He shared an update on farm programs and stressed the importance of upcoming dates, including the cutoff to reallocate base acres, which is Feb. 27.
Vilsack also noted that farmers who also have made decisions on the Agricultural Risk Coverage program or the Price Loss Coverage Program should share that information with their local Farm Service Agency office. The cutoff to select either of those programs is March 31.
USDA doesn't want "a crash of interest at the end of March," Vilsack said, which may impact the agency's ability to process enrollments.
He estimated that "several hundred thousand" producers have started the process of base acre reallocation, while 75,000 to 80,000 producers have made the program election.
"There are people who are beginning to focus on this," Vilsack said of the response to program enrollment. He reminded farmers that program elections can be changed until March 31, if desired.
Further, he reminded farmers that conservation compliance forms are due June 1.
Aside a bit of deadline "housekeeping," Vilsack said he felt most key farm programs in the bill were making good progress.
"A good part of the important work that impacts farmers on a day to day basis … we've moved forward and accomplished a great deal," Vilsack said. "What we tried to do was prioritize based on the need and based on what we were hearing from the nearly 4,000 sessions that were conducted with our stakeholders."
Vilsack said those priorities began with disaster assistance and dairy programs, as well as getting information on new crop programs in the hands of farmers. He also highlighted farm bill programs that help beginning farmers, grow economic development and support rural communities.
"Whether its local or regional food systems, or research, or record acres enrolled in conservation, or our efforts to support over a million jobs, export, trade – there's an awful lot of activity and all of it links back to this important legislation," Vilsack said.
See a fact sheet on the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill.