To help Iowa farmers and landowners understand their options under the 2018 Farm Bill, Iowa State University Extension is planning meetings across the state. More than 50 informational meetings will be held, beginning Nov. 12 in Grinnell, with a focus on explaining the different farm bill titles and programs that pertain to each part of the state.
The meeting series stretches through the winter for landowners and producers to attend now, or following harvest, at a location that is convenient for them. The agenda is similar at all meetings and will include ISU Extension farm management specialists and family life specialists, and local Farm Service Agency representatives.
“Producers should attend to gain a better understanding of the changes to these programs and determine the path that best fits their farm operation under the 2018 Farm Bill,” says Ann Johanns, program specialist in economics with ISU Extension. “This is a chance to hear the USDA farm program specifics and get answers to any questions you may have from regional experts.”
Decide by March 15
The 2018 Farm Bill allows producers to choose from the same crop price protection programs as found in the 2014 Farm Bill. However, unlike the previous bill, which limited their program selection for all five years, the new farm bill allows producers to make a two-year decision by March 15 and to change this selection beginning in 2021.
The basic choices are Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage (at the individual and county levels). A producer’s choice will depend on his or her annual national cash price expectation, and the farm or county yields where the farm is located.
“Our goal is to give an overview of the things that are included in the 2018 Farm Bill and which of the three roads a producer might wish to go down,” says Kelvin Leibold, farm management specialist with ISU Extension.
Farm stress also covered
Leibold and Johanns point out that farmers in general are entering this farm bill with more financial stress and less operating capital than in 2014, when commodity prices were still high. The financial stress has the potential to impact the future of the farm and the health of the operator.
The ISU Extension family life specialist at each meeting will present “Stress on the Farm: Strategies to Help Each Other,” a 40-minute scenario-based suicide prevention training that reviews the risk factors and warning signs of suicide.
While the farm bill is only one layer of risk protection, its programs are especially important this year. “I think it’s more important now than ever that farmers try to manage risk by understanding what these farm programs might do for them,” Leibold says.