Farm bill deadlines extended for one week

USDA offers additional week to update yields, reallocate base acres and make final program decisions.

Farm owners and producers were given one additional week, until April 7, 2015, to choose between Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), the safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill. The final day to update yield history or reallocate base acres also will be April 7, 2015, which was already extended once.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said that 98% of owners have already updated yield and base acres, and 90% of producers have enrolled in ARC or PLC. “These numbers are strong, and continue to rise. This additional week will give producers a little more time to have those final conversations, review their data, visit their local Farm Service Agency offices, and make their decisions,” said ag secretary Tom Vilsack.

If no changes are made to yield history or base acres by the deadline, the farm's current yield and base acres will be used. If a program choice of ARC or PLC is not made, there will be no 2014 crop year payments for the farm and the farm will default to PLC coverage for the 2015 through 2018 crop years.

Val Dolcini, Farm Service Agency administrator, said some states in the Upper Midwest are more ahead on sign-ups than others. He said the farm bill allocated money to be used for temporary employees and some of those will be able to be used in jump teams for the next two to four week to help out in places that have a heavy workload remaining on farm bill sign-ups, which he said included states such as Oklahoma and Texas which area also dealing with Livestock Forage Program signups.

Dolcini said FSA is currently assembling teams, and he sees that as an effective tool to get over the final hump in signups.

Producers who have an appointment at their local FSA offices scheduled by April 7 will be able to make an election between ARC and PLC, even if their actual appointment is after April 7.

New price forecasts

This week Joe Outlaw, co-director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M, recommended farmers rerun their model if the Texas one was used for producers to determine which program to sign-up for due to recent changes in price projections for several crops that had shifted in recent weeks.

An email from the Kansas State University’s farm bill team said it’s important to remember that “all price forecast are wrong, we just don’t know the direction of the error.” Each new price scenario can have slight modifications to the program which would provide higher payouts.

Dolcini said he didn’t anticipate the price changes to bring in an overwhelming surge of producers who wanted to change their elections. But he did say producers do have the ability to make changes before the final deadline.

Covered commodities under ARC and PLC include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity.

Producers need to contact the Farm Service Agency by April 7. To learn more, farmers can contact their local Farm Service Agency county office. To find local offices, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

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