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When will sign up for ACRE take place?

The new commodity program in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, ACRE, isn't available for crops harvested this year. Those harvested in 2009 will be the first that can be enrolled in the new Average Crop Revenue Election, or ACRE, program.

Because of that, many experts on farm programs have estimated that signup for ACRE will be next spring.

Tuesday, a high-ranking administrator at USDA said that the Department's goal could be a faster track.

"We hope to have the regulations published this fall and to start signup for 2009 direct and counter-cyclical payments as usual on October 1," John A. Johnson, Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs for the USDA Farm Service Agency, told Agriculture Online. "However, the software for ACRE will take some time to develop and I do not expect to be ready to do ACRE signup until sometime after the first of the year. The signup software will be built to allow someone who has already signed up for DCP to modify their contract for ACRE."

A late signup isn't necessarily a disadvantage for farmers, however. Besides allowing more time to mull over the pros and cons of ACRE, it puts the signup closer to planting when farmers may have a better idea of futures prices for the new crops and planting conditions. The biggest advantage to a late signup would go to winter wheat producers, says agricultural economist Art Barnaby of Kansas State University.

"We're going to be near the end of the production year, so we'll kind of know what the crop is," Barnaby told Agriculture Online. in a recent interview.

The value of any crops won't be known until about a year after harvest, but futures prices are a rough proxy if you're trying to outguess ACRE.

The new commodity program in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, ACRE, isn't available for crops harvested this year. Those harvested in 2009 will be the first that can be enrolled in the new Average Crop Revenue Election, or ACRE, program.

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