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Farm bill direct, countercyclical payment sign-up begins

The Direct and Countercyclical Payment Program (DCP) sign-up period began Wednesday, laying the groundwork for farmer supports included in the recently approved 2008 farm bill.

Starting Wednesday, contracts are available in all USDA Service Centers, according to a USDA report. In addition, farmers can complete DCP contracts online.

"[Farmers] can choose payment options, assign crop shares and sign and submit their contracts from any computer with Internet access. They can also view and print submitted contract options," according to a Wednesday USDA report. "The online, electronic DCP (or eDCP) service saves producers time, reduces paperwork and speeds contract processing at USDA Farm Service Agency offices. It is available to all producers who are eligible to participate in DCP and who obtain eAuthentication accounts."

The sign-up period lasts until September 30.

DCP payments are calculated using base acres and established payment yields, USDA officials say. Eligible producers receive direct payments at rates established by statute regardless of market prices. For 2008, eligible producers may request to receive an advance payment of 22% of the direct payment for each commodity associated with the farm. USDA will issue advance direct payments as soon as practical after enrollment.

Final direct payments will be issued after October 1, 2008. Countercyclical payments vary depending on market prices, and are issued only when the effective price for a commodity is below its target price (which takes into account the direct payment rate, market price and loan rate).

To access the electronic service, go to http://www.fsa.usda.gov/edcp and click on "Access eDCP Service." To access the service, producers must have an active USDA eAuthentication Level 2 account. To get a Level 2 account, producers must complete an online registration form at http://www.eauth.egov.usda.gov and then visit the local USDA Service Center to verify their identity.

The Direct and Countercyclical Payment Program (DCP) sign-up period began Wednesday, laying the groundwork for farmer supports included in the recently approved 2008 farm bill.

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