Today begins the onetime opportunity for farmers to reallocate their base acres under the new Farm Bill Several weeks ago, most producers received a letter from the USDA outlining the opportunity to reallocate their base acres mix and update their yield history at the local FSA office. Monday is the beginning of that opportunity. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says it is a decision that producers should take seriously, “This decision will become important as farmers make decisions over the next several months about which farm program they will participate in.” The new programs, Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), are cornerstones of the commodity farm safety net programs in the 2014 Farm Bill, legislation that ended direct payments. Only the land owners can make the base acre readjustment and yield history update, and this decision is different from which farm program to choose. As Vilsack explains that decision is made by the producer, ” Landowners are the only ones who can make the base acre adjustments. Unless they have a crop share arrangement with their tenant, they are considered a producer. If they have a cash rent arrangement, they cannot make a decision on which farm program to sign up for; only the person who puts the crop in the ground can decide that.”
Which farm program to participate in is not a decision that has to be made until sometime next summer, and Vilsack urges producers to take time and study the different options. “We’re committed to giving farmers as much information as we can so they can make an informed decision between these programs,” said Vilsack. “These resources will help farm owners and producers boil the information down, understand what their options are, and ultimately make the best decision on which choice is right for them. We are very grateful to our partners for their phenomenal work in developing these new tools within a very short time frame.”
A number of meetings will be held around the state and nation to explain the options, and new on-line tools are available to help farmers choose between ARC and PLC. USDA helped create online tools that allow farmers to enter information about their operations and to see projections about what each program will mean for them under possible future scenarios. The new tools are now available at www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc. USDA provided $3 million to the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri and the Agricultural and Food Policy Center (AFPC) at Texas A&M (co-leads for the National Association of Agricultural and Food Policy), along with the University of Illinois (lead for the National Coalition for Producer Education) to develop the new programs.