The clock is ticking. Don’t wait too long and make an expensive mistake. If you haven’t already visited your local USDA Farm Service Agency county office to sign up for either the Agriculture Risk Coverage or the Price Loss Coverage program, do it now.
March 16 is the last day to make your decisions. “If you need to make your 2019 election for either the ARC or PLC program and need to sign your annual enrollment contract, call and make your appointment today,” says Amanda DeJong, state executive director for FSA in Iowa.
Don’t make costly mistake
The official sign-up deadline as previously announced by USDA is actually March 15. However, since March 15 falls on a Sunday, you would have until the end of the day on March 16 to enroll. “But don’t wait until the deadline to do this,” DeJong says. “You should do it as soon as possible to beat the rush and make sure you have enough time to analyze your needs and get answers from FSA to make a good decision.
“Many farmers are already gearing up to head to the field for spring planting of their 2020 crop, but I cannot stress enough the importance of not letting this deadline get lost in the hectic day-to-day obligations of farm life,” she adds. “If you fail to make an election and don’t enroll for 2019 ARC or PLC, you will be ineligible to receive a payment for the 2019 crop year.”
ARC and PLC provide financial protections to farmers from substantial drops in crop prices or revenues, and are vital economic safety nets for most farms. “These programs cover 22 commodities produced in the U.S.,” she notes.
Iowa lagging in sign-up
Nationwide, FSA anticipates more than 1.7 million producers will enroll in ARC or PLC, and that’s a lot of producers to assist in a short period of time. As of Feb. 3, FSA records in Iowa show 31,691 farms out of an expected 151,279 farms have completed ARC or PLC election and enrollment for the 2019 crop year.
Want to maximize your time visiting with FSA? Inquire about deadlines and options for also enrolling in 2020 ARC or PLC by June 30, and updating your 2020 PLC payment yields by Sept. 30. “Our staff will help you make the most out of your visit, or set you up with a future appointment to help check FSA programs off your lengthy to-do list,” DeJong says.
She adds, “If you’re still unsure about the choice of ARC or PLC, we offer online decision tools to help you determine the best program election for your farming operation. To access these tools, visit fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.” Call FSA today for an appointment. To locate your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-center-locator. “We know time is money, so make the time now to avoid losing the money,” she adds.
Time to make your decisions
Are farmers making decisions or are they procrastinating more than they should? There probably is some procrastinating, but FSA county office staffers say they are now seeing more decisions being made.
“Last week, traffic in our local offices increased and we are getting busier, so that’s good,” DeJong says. “But it also might mean longer wait times if producers don’t make an appointment before they come into the county office. We prefer they make an appointment so we can have their file ready and help them complete their enrollment as quickly as we can.”
Does FSA have worksheets to help farmers make the ARC-PLC decision? Or should they use the online tools? “I recommend farmers go to our website or to the ISU Extension Ag Decision Maker website and use the online tools,” she says. “That’s easier to use than a worksheet. The online tool can do the calculations for you.”
Is FSA seeing any trends as to which farm program options farmers are choosing? More corn acres are going into ARC and more soybeans are going into PLC, she says. “And we have more farms going into the ARC-individual option than we did with the previous USDA farm bill program five years ago. There is a mix of options. I encourage people to look at their own farming operation and see which option works best and also consider what they think is going to happen with corn and soybean prices.”