The 2014 Farm Bill will provide support in light of falling crop prices, but it's not like any farm program that has been offered before. Besides containing three choices for support, it also requires that you choose which of the three you want one time, and then live with that choice through 2018. Your choice will also include 2014.
You're already going to know what the numbers are and can plug them in to see what your payments, if any, would be in each of the three programs for 2014 before you have to make the final election of which program you want.
Jim Mintert, director of the Purdue University Center for Commercial Agriculture, says there is a lot of ground to cover to get up to speed in understanding your choices. Purdue and the Farm Service Agency, headed by Julia Wickard, state executive director, have partnered to offer several regional meetings around the state that provide in-depth detail on the programs. The programs continue through mid-January. Consult with your Extension office or local FSA office to see where the closest one will be in your area.
The only catch is that these are all scheduled as afternoon meetings, running from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Several Extension county educators and even Indiana Prairie Farmer are receiving questions from people who also work off the farm during the day and can't attend daytime meetings. They are looking for nighttime meetings that can help them drill down through the language to what they really know to make decisions.
Jim Luzar, Vigo County Extension educator, says that he's aware that several counties are planning to have meetings. Not all of the dates and times have been nailed down. In his area at least two of the counties are planning morning meetings. Sullivan County intends to hold an evening meeting in mid-January, but the exact date, time and location has not yet been announced.
If you are in this situation, let your county Extension educator know so they can direct you to a meeting if one is planned and so they can also pass along your concern about a lack of evening meetings.
Meanwhile, there is considerable information available in stories in the December issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer. It's online on this site under Magazines online. Scroll down the left side of the home page to find the link in blue. More information will follow in the January issue.
If you have specific questions, send them to Itbechjman@farmprogress.com. We will see that you get answers directly from State FSA specialists. Your name will not be used in print or on the Web. The question may be used anonymously in a future FSA Close-Up column in the magazine.