Top 10 Things to Know About the 2014 Farm Bill – A Farmers Guide to Get Started

3/5/2014 8:56:37 AM

10. USDA Rules Should Be Out by Late 2014

Many of the rules governing this farm bill have yet to be written. Because there are new commodity programs, the USDA still has to work out how they will administer certain provisions, and there could be several kinks to work through. Deadlines for program sign-up also remain uncertain.  

9. Nebraska Corn and Soybean Farmers Should Start by Looking at ARC

Farmers will have a choice of signing up for one of two versions of the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program or the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program that replaces direct payments and the ACRE program. This decision will be made for each Farm Service Agency (FSA) farm. In general, ARC would pay out when actual county crop revenue is below the county ARC revenue guarantee for a crop year. Farmers will have to choose between ARC and PLC, but early indicators suggest ARC might be a better bet and a good place to start investigating farm bill options.

8. Is County or Individual ARC Better for You?        

Farmers will have the option to choose between two versions of the ARC program: County-ARC or Individual-ARC. The County-ARC program allows producers to participate on a crop by crop basis and protects based off of county revenue losses. The individual-ARC program provides individual farm level protection, but all of a farm’s commodities must be enrolled in the program if the farmer selects this option. Early analysis indicates County-ARC might be more popular among corn and soybean producers. Individual-ARC is more complicated than its County-ARC counterpart.  

7. Don’t Overlook PLC and the New Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO)

The new PLC target price program operates similarly to the old Counter-Cyclical payment program. Under the new program, a payment would trigger if the U.S. average market price for the crop year is less than the set reference price. While the target price program was a non-factor in recent years, USDA’s price projections for 2014 might make this attractive for farmers who worry about crop prices more than revenue.

Farmers that sign up for PLC can also utilize the new Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO). SCO is a crop insurance program that provides farms the option to purchase county level insurance that would cover part of the deductible under their individual yield and revenue loss crop insurance policies. A farmer is not eligible to participate in SCO if they are enrolled in ARC. This program would be available beginning in the 2015 crop year.  

6. You Get One Shot to Get It Right…

Like the decision to sign up for ACRE in the last farm bill, farmers will have one chance to make a decision as to which program (County-ARC, Individual-ARC or PLC) they will participate in through the life of the five-year farm bill. If a farmer does not choose an option, they are automatically enrolled in PLC but will receive no benefits for their 2014 crop. Also, landowners will have the one-time option to reallocate base acres. Participating in the PLC program will also offer landowners a one-time opportunity to update base yields.

5. Conservation Compliance and Crop Insurance are Now Linked

Farmers purchasing crop insurance will have to be in compliance with conservation provisions with highly erodible lands and wetlands in 2015. While farmers were obligated to meet similar requirements for commodity payments, the linkage to crop insurance is new and will provide more options for complying than under the compliance provision for commodities.

4. Irrigated and Dryland Crops Can be Insured at Different Levels

Different than in previous years, the new farm bill allows farmers to select different levels of protection on irrigated versus dryland crop ground. While it will not be available until 2015, this will allow farmers to customize their level of crop insurance coverage to better meet their individual needs.

3. Conservation Program Opportunities Might be Tighter

The big three conservation programs of CRP, EQIP and CSP remain in the 2014 Farm Bill, but there are fewer dollars collectively for these programs this time around. Another change is that the land preservation and easement programs in the previous farm bill are now all rolled into one program.

2. Livestock Disaster Sign-Up Begins April 15

The much anticipated retro-active extension of numerous livestock disaster programs occurred under the 2014 Farm Bill. Producers who suffered livestock and forage losses due to drought and blizzard conditions going back to 2012 will be able to begin the sign-up process at local FSA offices beginning April 15.

1. There is A Lot to Chew On…

There will be a lot of options for farmers to think about this time around which means communication with landlords and lenders will be very important as you consider which safety-net programs will work best for your operation. Key among these considerations is the fact that program payments will not be issued until October of the following crop year (i.e. 2014 crop year payments will be issued in Oct. 2015).

For more details on these programs click here for Nebraska Farm Bureau’s 2014 Farm Bill Breakdown page >>

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