USDA extends deadline on base acre, yield allocation

March 31 begins the new deadline in conjunction with final PLC/ARC decision date.

USDA granted a one-month extension for producers making decisions on updating yield history and reallocating base acres, the first in a multiple-step process to sign up for Price Loss Coverage (PLC) or Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), new commodity programs established in the 2014 Farm Bill.

The initial deadline was February 27. The new deadline is March 31, the same deadline for making the one-time election to enroll in PLC or ARC for crop years 2014-2018. If no changes are made to yield history or base acres by March 31, 2015, the farm's current yield and base will be used.

“This is an important decision for producers, because these programs provide financial protection against unexpected changes in the marketplace. Producers are working to make the best decision they can. And we’re working to ensure that they’ve got the time, the information, and the opportunities to have those final conversations, review their data, and to visit the Farm Service Agency to make those decisions,” said Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has been working through implementation challenges in several states related to cover crops, software, yield history and other issues. Earlier in the week during a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing, Vilsack shared that about 60% of eligible producers had made the decision on the yield and base acre reallocations.

A program choice of ARC or PLC coverage also must be made by March 31, 2015, or there will be no 2014 payments for the farm and the farm will default to PLC coverage through the 2018 crop year.

“These are complex decisions which is why we launched a strong education and outreach campaign back in September. Now we’re providing a one-time extension of an additional month so that every producer is fully prepared to enroll in this program,” said Vilsack.

Vilsack stopped short of saying USDA would offer a signup extension for the March 31 deadline due to concerns that it would lead to procrastination. "That would be like telling your kids they've got another week to do their homework," he joked at the Commodity Classic.

At a press conference Vilsack said about 30% of farmers had already made their ARC/PLC elections.

"We still have a ways to go, but we've seen remarkable uptick in just the past few weeks."

If a program enrollment decision is not made by March 31, then no payment will be made for the 2014 crop year, and the farm's enrollment will default to the PLC program for the 2015 through 2018 crop years.

The online tools, available at www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc, allow producers to explore projections on how ARC or PLC coverage will affect their operation under possible future scenarios.

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