NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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Time is Running Out to Sign-up for the Farm Bill

2014 Farm Bill, Farm Bill

Time is Running Out to Sign-up for the Farm Bill

The hot topic in the agriculture industry this winter season is the new “Farm Bill” or should I say the hard to understand “Farm Bill”. There’s no doubt this bill is different in its overall design, stature, and language than past farm bills. However; this bill puts full responsibility in the hands of the landowner and operator(s). This bill fully allows landowners and operators to pick the options they feel most comfortable with and to take it one step farther this bill allows you to pick options per farm number and per crop. I will try to explain the bill in brief detail.  

The dos – The first thing landowners and operators need to do is to make sure the record information for each individual farm number is correct. What do I mean? Review the names of landowners/operators on each farm number and make sure they are recorded correctly because all of the people listed will have a say on what options will be selected once the farm is signed up.

Secondly, a landowner and operator will want to update their proven yield history for each individual farm number. This option hasn’t been available to producers for over 20 years and many producers will be able to prove yields higher than what currently is on record. The next step is to make sure your current base acres are correct for each farm number. Are the crops/acreage listed on the report correct? Is the total farmland acreage listed for each individual farm correct?  The deadline to update your yields and reallocate your bases if you choose is February 27.

Once this is completed you need to decide what election you will take for each individual crop. The options are Price Loss Coverage (PLC), Agriculture Risk Coverage County (ARCC) or Agriculture Risk Coverage Individual (ARCI). This election will need to be finalized by March 31, 2015. How do you do this? The Farm Service Agency and North Dakota State University Extension Service have computer Excel spreadsheet tools to help landowners and operators make these decisions. They can be accessed by the internet. Once this is completed all parties involved will officially sign off on the election sometime in the summer of 2015 with the first payment for 2014 and 2015 (if any are granted bases on the provisions of the bill) in October 2015.

Points to consider when making an election/decision. The election you make is locked for five years and cannot be changed. Therefore; landowners/operators must be in agreement. The next point to consider is land rental contracts. If new contracts are designed or written within the five years, the farm bill elections made in 2015 will stay with the farm number and cannot be changed. On the flip side if a landowner or operator decides to purchase more land within the next five years the new owner cannot make any changes to the farm bill program.

The don’ts – Don’t under educate yourself on this farm bill.  Do not do what your friends or neighbor are doing. It will not work for this bill like it did in many cases with previous bills.  The bill is designed to reduce risk for landowners and producers in the next five years based on market prices and revenue. Producers/landowners that do not make an election by the deadlines will automatically be signed up for the PLC option but will not be able to receive any payments from 2014 if payments are generated based on the provisions in the bill.

Finally, it is of utmost importance that landowners/producers communicate with all parties involved and do their homework. The computer spreadsheets will conclude by not doing so the potential to leave a lot of money on the table is great. The farm bill is really to reduce risk and protect your farming financial resources for the next five years. If you would like me to run your information in the computer program please call the Extension office at 701-873-5195, and make an appointment. The more information you can provide the better the results will be in making this important management decision.

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