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One More FSA Visit: Program Signup

If you’ve still got soybeans to plant, hay to cut, or spraying to do, visiting your local FSA office is the last thing on your mind.

But today, June 17, is also the first day you can sign up for farm commodity programs for the 2015 crop. If you have already chosen between ARC (Agricultural Risk Coverage) and PLC (Price Loss Coverage), you can also sign up retroactively for eligible 2014 crops.

“It’s exactly like what we’ve done with the DCP contracts,” said Kevin McClure, chief program specialist for production adjustment at the Farm Service Agency state office for Iowa. The annual signup for DCP (or direct and countercyclical payment contracts) ended in 2013, the last year of the extended 2008 farm bill. 

The signup runs through September 30. McClure said that in spite of a few glitches with new computer programs for the signup, county FSA offices “are ready to go. In fact, they’re excited about it.”

McClure said that farmers will have to sign up each year for the programs, even though the decisions they had to make on ARC and PLC by early April were for the full five years of the current 2014 Farm Bill.

In the Corn Belt, the county-level ARC program was the overwhelming choice, according to an announcement by USDA. 

According to the Department, nationwide, 96% of soybean farms, 91% of corn farms, and 66% of wheat farms elected ARC; 99% of long grain rice farms, 99% of peanut farms, and 94% of medium grain rice farms elected PLC.

Also, more farmers have chosen to participate in 2014 Farm Bill programs than the direct payments offered under the 2008 law, USDA said.

More than 1.76 million farmers have elected ARC or PLC. Previously, 1.7 million producers had enrolled to receive direct payments (the program replaced with ARC and PLC by the 2014 Farm Bill). 

On Farmdoc Daily yesterday, economists and farm program specialists at the University of Illinois and Ohio State University dug into the numbers on the ARC/PLC election and found that:

1. Farmers did not split decisions between ARC-CO and PLC. One strategy was to choose ARC-CO on some farms and PLC on other farms, splitting protection between a revenue program whose guarantee will change over time and a target price program with a fixed reference price. Most farmers did not follow the strategy of splitting choices.

2. Farmers raising corn and soybeans placed little value on having the option to purchase Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO). SCO is a county-level crop insurance program that rides on top of individual plans. SCO is only available if PLC was chosen.

3. When making decisions, the default was PLC. Farmers had to make an active decision to sign up for ARC-CO. Most farmers raising corn and soybeans made an active decision to choose ARC-CO.

The full Farmdoc Daily analysis is here

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