This is a lengthy discussion with ILLINOIS ag economist Gary Schnitkey detailing the ARC/PLC and Crop Insurance decisions farmers throughout the nation will need to make by March 16, 2020.
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The 2018 Farm Bill included some changes that require farmer to do a couple of things. First, they'll want to update their yields with FSA, if and only if the current set is higher than those already on record. Second, a decision must be made about which farm safety net to use for the crop harvest last year, and the one that will be harvested this year. Gary Schnitkey from the University of Illinois has some advice, "If you have a farm that is complete Prevent Plant, I think you are going to want to do ARC-IC. One FSA farm. If they are yielding at all, you'll probably lean to PLC for corn, ARC-CO for soybeans and PLC for wheat".
You may learn more about ARC-IC on the farmdoc website. ILLINOIS has developed a set of tools farmers can use to help them make the best possible ARC/PLC decision no matter where they live. It includes, says Schnitkey, a calculator that runs on a super-computer, "The calculators are online. The Gardner ARC/PLC tool will allow you to look at the probabilities of these things making payments. Again, corn is not likely to make payments in 2019. Soybeans similarly. Wheat will make a PLC payment for 2019. So, you can look at the Gardner ARC County / PLC calculator for that. There is a 2018 Farm Bill Tool that is a Microsoft Excel speadsheet and you can use that to look at different prices and yields to see what ARC-County, ARC-IC, and PLC will do in those situations".
The ARC/PLC safety net decision is due to be made at the Farm Service Agency office by March 15th. The ARC/PLC calculators are online at https://farmdoc.illinois.edu/2018-farm-bill.
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Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) was introduced in the 2014 Farm Bill but was limited to acres where Price Loss Coverage (PLC) was the commodity title program choice. More farmers likely will be choosing PLC for the 2019 and 2020 marketing years, leading to more acres being eligible for SCO. SCO may be attractive to those farmers who find the costs of Revenue Protection (RP) at an 85% coverage level too high. Farmers interested in SCO should discuss eligibility options with crop insurance agents.
by Gary Schnitkey
SCO is available to farmers who choose PLC for receiving commodity title payments. SCO is not available when Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) is chosen (farmdoc daily, June 16, 2015). ARC was selected on over 90% of the base acres in corn and soybeans under the 2014 Farm Bill. As a result, SCO was not an option for most Midwest farmers. Similar to the 2014 Farm Bill, the 2018 Farm Bill again gives a choice between PLC and ARC. More farmers likely will choose PLC for 2019 and 2020, increasing the acres eligible for SCO.
SCO provides protection in a band from 86% down to the coverage level of an underlying COMBO product. If, for example, a farmer selects a 75% Revenue Protection (RP) product, SCO could be purchased from 86% to the 75% RP coverage level (see farmdoc daily, December 17, 2014; April 24, 2014).
The SCO band of coverage is based on county revenue given that the underlying Combo product is RP. That is, county revenue must fall below 86% of expected revenue before SCO makes a payment. As a result, the RP-SCO combination provides mixed coverage: Farm-level coverage is provided from the RP coverage level downward while county-level coverage is provided between 86% to the coverage level of the RP product.
The primary disadvantage of the RP-SCO combination is that the county-level coverage may not match losses on a farm. Sometimes a farm may have a loss while SCO will not trigger a payment. Conversely, it is possible for the farm not have a loss while the county-based SCO product triggers a payment.
Premiums under RP-SCO Combinations
The primary advantage of using SCO is lower farmer-paid premium. The costs of a RP-SCO combination usually will be lower than an 85% RP product when RP is purchased at less than 85% in the RP-SCO combination. Compared to RP 85%, the RP-SCO premium usually is lower for two reasons. First, county yields typically are less variable than farm yields, resulting in fewer payments for a county product than for a farm-level product at the same coverage level. Lower payments then result in a lower premium. Second, the premium assistance under SCO often is higher than for RP. SCO has a subsidy rate of 65%. For a product with an expected payment of \(1, the SCO farmer-paid premium will be about $.35 (\).35 = $1 expected payment x (1 – .65 subsidy rate)). The 65% subsidy rate is higher than all subsidy levels for basic and optional units when the coverage level is above 50% (see Table 1). The 65% SCO subsidy level also is higher than the subsidy level at an 85% coverage level given enterprise units.
Table 2 shows examples of RP-SCO combinations for Sangamon and Saline Counties in Illinois. Sangamon County is a relatively low risk county while Saline County has higher risk. Premiums are shown for corn (Panels A and B) and soybeans (Panels C and D). Relationships of premiums are the same for both counties and crops.
Take corn in Sangamon County as an example. An RP 85% product has a farmer-paid premium of $21.35 per acre (see Panel A of Table 2). SCO for an RP with an 85% coverage level has a $.79 premium. For an 85% RP coverage level, the RP-SCO combination has a $22.14 per acre premium. An RP-SCO combination with an 80% RP coverage leave has a $14.02 per acre premium, with $11.03 premium from RP 80% and $2.99 from SCO from 86% to 80%. RP-SCO combinations have lower farmer-paid premium as the RP coverage level is decreased. A $22.14 combined premium result for an 85% coverage level, $14.02 premium results for an 80% coverage level, a $9.43 premium results for a 75% coverage level, and so on.
Who Should Consider SCO Farmers purchasing RP at 85% coverage levels likely will not find SCO an attractive alternative. The SCO band from 86% to 85% coverage will provide little additional coverage. Any reduction of RP coverage level with an SCO band results in a crop insurance payment structure that is less correlated with losses on the insurance unit.
Farmers purchasing lower coverage levels could find SCO useful, particularly if the lower coverage level is selected so as to result in a lower farmer-paid premium. The farmer-paid premium for RP approximately doubles from the 75% coverage level to 80% coverage level. For example, soybean RP premium in Sangamon County goes from $2.93 per acre at a 75% coverage level to $5.78 at an 80% coverage level. Premiums again double from the 80% coverage level to the 85% coverage level. For soybeans in Sangamon County, RP premiums increase from $5.78 at an 80% coverage level to $11.68 at an 85% coverage level. A farmer currently at a 75% coverage level could include SCO for $2.53 additional premium, with the $5.46 premium for the RP-SCO combination being less than for a stand-alone RP 80% premium ($5.78) and RP 85% premium ($11.68). The addition of SCO to a RP 75% coverage level would improve coverage, providing county-level coverage above the 75% coverage level of the RP.
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excepts from the farmdocDaily article
by Gary Schnitkey, Jonathan Coppess, Nick Paulson, & Carl Zulauf
The House and Senate have respectively passed their versions of a 2018 Farm Bill. Now a conference committee will attempt to work out the differences. Both include the Agricultural Risk Coverage at the County Level (ARC-CO) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) farm safety net programs first made available in the 2014 bill. The House version eliminates a third program— ARC at the individual farm level (ARC-IC) — while the Senate leaves it in.
ARC-CO pays when county revenue (county yield x marketing year average price) is below a revenue guarantee. The revenue guarantee equals .86 times a benchmark yield times a benchmark price. Benchmark yields and benchmark prices are Olympic averages of the five previous prices (eliminate the high and low equals). When county revenue is below the ARC guarantee, a shortfall is calculated that equals the guarantee minus harvest revenue. The shortfall cannot exceed 10% of the benchmark price times the benchmark yield. The ARC payment equals 85% times the shortfall. In each year since the 2014 Farm Bill has been implemented, payments have been reduced by a 6.8% sequester amount. Prices since 2014 have been below $4.00, and the benchmark price has declined. The benchmark price will be $3.70 in 2018, compared with a high of $5.29 in 2014. The benchmark price cannot go below $3.70 since the $3.70 reference price is a floor on the benchmark price.
Price Loss Coverage (PLC) is a price program. It makes payments when prices are below the reference price ($3.70 for corn). Each FSA farm has a PLC yield. The yield used in calculating payments is the average county yield, as reported by the Farm Service Agency. A per bushel shortfall is calculated when the MYA price is below the reference price equal to the reference price minus the higher of the MYA price or loan rate ($1.95 for corn). For example, the MYA price was $3.36 in 2016. Per bushel shortfall was $.34 ($3.70 reference price – $3.36 MYA Price), which is multiplied by the PLC yield and the payment acre factor of 0.85 and the sequester factor of (1 – 0.068).
The Senate ARC-CO version modifies the 2014 ARC-CO version in two ways; the benchmark yield will be trend adjusted; and an actual yield below 75% of the t-yield will be replaced by 75% of the t-yield. Both of these modifications have potential to raise benchmark yields, benchmark guarantees, and ARC payments.
The Senate PLC program is exactly the same as the 2014 PLC program.
The House PLC version uses an effective reference price in calculating per bushel shortfalls. The effective reference price equals .85 times the Olympic, five-year average of MYA prices as long as that average is between the current reference price ($3.70 for corn) up to 1.15 times the reference price ($4.26 for corn). If the average is below the $3.70 reference price, the $3.70 reference price is used. If the average is above $4.26, the $4.26 price is used. The House PLC program always has an effective price that is at least as great as the Senate PLC program.
The projection made in its April 2018 baseline allows calculation of CBO’s projections of per acre ARC-CO and PLC payments. On a national per base acre basis, ARC-CO is expected to make payments of $11 per acre for corn produced in the 2019 marketing year (see Table 2). For the 2019 marketing year, PLC is projected to pay $38 per corn base acre. In each year of the projected life of the 2018 Farm Bill, PLC is projected to pay more than ARC-CO. Over the 2019 to 2023 period, PLC is projected to pay an average of $29 per corn base acre compared to $9 per corn base acre for ARC-CO.
The Senate version of ARC-CO would result in higher payments for ARC-CO than those shown in Table 2 because the use of trend-adjusted yields and floors of 75% of t-yields will result in higher yield benchmarks and ARC guarantees. CBO’s estimate of program outlay changes for the Senate version suggests modest increases in spending of an average $20.5 million per year for marketing years from 2019 to 2023 (see Congressional Budget Office, Cost Estimates of S. 3042). The $20.5 million is applicable to all program crops. However, even if all the $20.5 million were applied to corn, expected payments would increase by $1.35 per corn base acre. This increase would leave expected payments for ARC-CO near $12 per base acre, still well below those for PLC. It is unlikely this increase would change any decisions by farmers as to which program to elect.
Turning to PLC, the House alternative will have at least as high of payments as shown in Table 2 for the Senate version because the House version has the potential escalator provision for reference prices. CBO estimates the impacts of the effective reference price mechanism to be minor for corn, with PLC payments for corn increasing $5 million for the ten fiscal years from 2019 to 2028 (CBO, https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/115th-congress–2017–2018/costestimate/hr2.pdf). This $5 million total increase would work out to be less than an increase of $1 per corn base acre. The reason for this low estimate is that MYA prices are not expected to get high enough to cause the effective reference price to exceed the reference price.
Given the choices in the House and Senate versions, most farmers and land owners would choose PLC over ARC-CO for use on corn base acre. This assumes that prices remain at levels currently forecast. It also assumes that farmers and land owners make choices based on highest expected payments from the program.
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link to full farmdocDaily article
The United States Department of Agriculture will issue farm safety net payments this month. Todd Gleason has more on the payments for this year, and projections for next year with University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey. You may listen to that conversation.
Schnitkey, his University of Illinois colleagues Nick Paulson & Jonathan Coppess, and Ohio State’s Carl Zulauf also explored how the 2016 ARC County payments would compare to those from its counterpart USDA safety net program, PLC. This exploration is a head to head look at how each program performed.
Check the farmdocDaily website for full details at www.farmdocdaily.illinois.edu.
The four academics compared PLC and ARC-CO payment levels per base acre in 2016. They looked at corn and wheat and then did a simple calculation for each to illustrate which USDA farm safety net program made the largest payments for 2016. They calculated by county, for the whole of the United States, the average county-wide ARC payment and then subtracted from it the calculated average county-wide PLC payment. The differences where mapped.
|2016 Corn Payments | ARC-CO minus PLC|
For corn, it shows ARC-CO payments per base acre exceed those from PLC in most of the counties in the western, Great Plains, and southeastern regions of the US. In more than 60% of counties where the ARC and PLC programs are available for corn base, the ARC-CO payment is at least $10 per base acre larger than the average PLC payment. The ARC-CO payment per base acre is more than $20 larger than the average PLC payment per base acre in more than 50% of counties.
The exception to this is in the Midwest. Many counties in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota would receive larger payments from PLC for the 2016 corn crop. Despite low prices, high yields in this region had an offsetting effect on ARC-CO payments. Average PLC payments exceed ARC-CO payments for corn by more than $10 per base acre in 27% of counties across the United States, and by more than $20 per base acre in 17% of counties. Most of those counties are in the corn belt.
This is not an unexpected outcome as ARC was projected to make much larger payments in the first years of the program, and then to taper off with PLC expected to make larger payments in the closing years of the current farm bill. It did this more evenly across the United States for the 2016 wheat base.
The vast majority of counties trigger larger PLC payments per base acre for 2016 wheat. The average PLC payment is more than $10 larger than the ARC-CO payment in nearly 92% of counties with ARC and PLC programs for wheat base. The average PLC payment is more than $20 per base acre larger than the ARC-CO payment in more than 57% of the counties. This large payment difference of more than $20 per base acre captures the main wheat producing areas of the country.
|2016 Wheat Payments | ARC-CO minus PLC|
Again, while low wheat prices had the effect of triggering PLC and ARC-CO payments, most wheat producing areas experienced high yield levels, offsetting the price effect for ARC-CO payments. Less than 1% of counties triggered an ARC-CO payment per wheat base acre larger than the average PLC payment.
In summary, the farmdoc team finds low commodity price levels led to PLC payments being triggered for a number of program crops in 2016, including corn and wheat. Their models show the size of PLC payments per base acre vary regionally by the size of PLC program yields for those crops, with larger payments being triggered in areas with larger program yields. This includes the Midwest region for corn, and the Midwest, Great Plains, and Western regions for wheat.
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The enrollment period for ARC and PLC coverage ends September 30th. This is different from the signup for the program held earlier. Without the final enrollment contract signed University of Illinois Agricultural Policy Specialist Jonathan Coppess says payments won’t be made for last year’s harvest short falls.
Quote Summary - When you made the election decision back in the spring you still had to signup for the program in order to receive the payment. That signup period is closing September 30th. So, farmers if you have not signed up, then you need to get into the FSA (Farm Service Agency Office) right away to get that taken care of.Payments, if any, from last year’s ARC and PLC program will be cleared to go out starting October 1st, 2015. The payments, as outlined in the contract language, are subject to sequester cuts. If congress fails to deliver a budget, payments for the 2014 crop will be reduced by more than 7%.
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency (USDA, FSA) recently released enrollment data on commodity program choices made under the 2014 Farm Bill. This article summarizes how farmers split program acres between Agricultural Risk Coverage - County Option (ARC-CO), ARC - Individual Option (ARC-IC), and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). Overall, ARC-CO was the overwhelming choice. ARC-CO was elected on 76% of program acres. PLC was next with 23% of acres, followed by ARC-IC with less than 1% of acres. There were differences in program choices across crops, as discussed below.
Farmers choose ARC-CO for 97% of soybean base acres and 94% for corn base acres (see Figure 1). Analysis indicated that expected payment from ARC-CO were larger than from PLC for both corn and soybeans (see farmdoc daily January 27, 2015 for more detail), suggesting high use of ARC-CO. However, the fact that ARC-CO accounted for over 90% of program acres for both corn and soybeans is astonishing. The large share suggests:
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.
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.
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 large percentages suggest that farmers raising corn and soybeans were comfortable with revenue-based programs. Some questioned this because ACRE - a revenue program available in the 2008 Farm Bill that preceded ARC-CO - was chosen by few farmers. The decision to use ARC-CO also mirrors crop insurance decisions made by corn and soybean farmers, where farmers overwhelmingly choose to use revenue insurances.
On corn, farmers used ACRE on 8.1% of base acres in 2013. Hence, revenue program use on corn increased from 8.1% in 2013 up to 94% after 2014 program choices. There are a number of reasons that could have caused this change:
To enroll in ACRE, an individual had to give up 20% of direct payments and loan rates were reduced by 30%. Since direct payments were eliminate and loan rates were the same no matter the choice in the 2014 Farm Bill, this tradeoff did not exist for ARC-CO.
ACRE was more complicated than ARC-CO, especially as ACRE required two triggers to be met before a farmer could receive payments. Farmers had to provide yields to FSA when enrolling in ACRE. This was not the case for ARC-CO.
Given the elimination of direct payments and the choices posed in the 2014 Farm Bill, farmers likely gave the choices more consideration in 2014.
Price expectations were different in 2014 than when ACRE decisions were made. There also are expectations for larger up front ARC-CO payments.
At the other end of the spectrum, near 100% of peanut and long grain rice base acres were enrolled in PLC (see Figure 1). These large percentages are not a surprise as studies suggested that PLC would make larger payments than ARC-CO for these crops (see farmdoc daily January 27, 2015 for more detail). Reference prices for these crops are well above market-level prices, leading peanuts and rice farmers to overwhelmingly choose PLC.
Perhaps the surprise in rice is the fact that ARC-CO was elected for a relatively high percentage of acres for Japonica rice. ARC-CO was selected on 34% of acres, ARC-IC was selected on 4%, and PLC for 62%. Note that yield and price dynamics are different for japonica rice than for long grain prices and Japonica’s reference price was set at 115% of the long and medium grain reference price. Also, all Japonica rice base acres are located in California, and the drought situation may be playing a role in program choice.
Wheat choices were split relatively evenly between ARC and PLC (see Figure 1). ARC-CO was used on 56% of base cases, ARC-IC on 2%, and PLC on 42%. Studies of expected payments suggested that ARC-CO and PLC were near one another, potentially leading to the relatively even split.
ARC-IC was used on the fewest program acres. Crops having the most use of ARC-IC include large chickpeas (11% of base acres), small chickpeas (9%), lentils (7%), dry peas (6%), mustard (6%), temperate japonica rice (4%), barley (4%), and safflower (3%). There is a geographical dimension to where these crops are raised, with most of the states being located in the northwest. Oregon had the highest share of base acres enrolled in ARC-IC, with 12% of base acres enrolled in ARC-IC. Oregon was followed by Montana (9%), Washington (4%), Idaho (4%), Wyoming (2%), Minnesota (2%), South Dakota (2%), North Dakota (1%), and Colorado (1%).
Overall there was a geographical pattern to program choice, as would be indicated by signup by crop. Figure 2 shows states giving percentages of base acres enrolled in PLC. In general, PLC was used more in states in the south and west. Highest PLC use occurred in Arizona (95% of program acres), New Mexico (87%), Texas (84%), and Utah (82%). PLC use in Corn-Belt states were small. For example, PLC was used on 2% of program acres in Iowa, 3% in Illinois, and 2% in Indiana.
To a large extent, program choices followed predictions made prior to sign-up. Two facts, however, stand out. First, ARC-CO was the overwhelming program choice across program crops, particularly on corn and soybean acres. This suggests that farmers will use revenue-based programs, particularly those of relatively straight-forward design. The second was the relatively small use of ARC-IC. While ARC-IC has the desirable feature that it protects farm yields, ARC-IC also is a more complicated program relative to ARC-CO and PLC, combining all crops when determining payments and requiring farmers to report yields to be FSA. These complications may result in its unpopularity.
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The sign up period has been extended a full week says U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The deadline is now April 7th.
The secretary reports 98 percent of farm land owners have updated information needed to calculate payments made under the new farm programs, but only 90 percent of the farms are enrolled.
Those farms not enrolled by the deadline will receive no 2014 crop year payments and the farm will default to the Price Loss Coverage enrollment option for the 2015 through 2018 crop years.
Sign up can be completed at local Farm Service Agency offices.
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Farm Program Sign Up Deadlines & Decision Aids
Jonathan Coppess, Ag Law & Policy Specialist - University of Illinois
Time is running out for landowners and farmers to decide what to do about the new farm programs. They have until the end of February to make the first two decisions, and must make a final choice by March 31st. Todd Gleason reports on the decision aids available on the University of Illinois Farm Doc Daily website.
FarmDocDaily is hosted by the ag economists…
FarmDocDaily is hosted by the ag economist at a the U of I, including Ag Policy Specialist Jonathan Coppess. The home page includes a link to something called the Farm Bill Toolbox. There you’ll find decision tools, and a brand new link under Resources named Farm Program Decision Guide.
Coppess :18 …it is all right there.
Quote Summary - It is just a PDF file available on the website. It is something to take home with you, to go to your landlord with, to sit down with your brothers and dad over family discussions with about what your are going to do (about the farm program). It is all right there.
Right there in an easy to download, print out, and use file. It in includes the deadlines - February 27th to make the first two decisions about payment yields and base acre allocation, and March 31st for the final program choice. All of which must be recorded at the local F-S-A office, the Farm Service Agency. The first two decisions, the ones due Feb 27th, should be pretty easy for row crop farmers. Take the highest yields and use the base acre allocation with the most corn acres.
Coppess :25 …if landowners aren’t getting in there soon.
Quote Summary - There is no reason to delay those decisions because the program choice follows on March 31st. It is the one where farmers will want to know a little more about the 2014 county yields. Still, the payment yields and base acre decisions should be made now, otherwise, there will be some long lines at the FSA office if landowners don’t get to the office soon.
The county yields, as released by USDA NASS this month, will help determine how much the ARC County payment will be for last fall’s crop. Once those are released, it will be easier to compare ARC County to the other two farm programs, ARC Individual and PLC.
Coppess :47 …in order to trigger a payment.
Quote Summary - The county yields will determine the ARC County payment. The final number won’t be calculated until the Market Year Average Price is released next fall. Still, it will be the indicator used to calculate and trigger the 2014 ARC County payments.
Knowing the approximate 2014 ARC County payment should help farmers make a final farm program choice. It is important to remember the choice is a five year decision not a one year commitment. The online Farm Bill ToolBox walks producers through seven steps in hopes they’ll make an informed choice.
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Using the APAS Sample Farm
Jonathan Coppess, Ag Policy Specialist - University of Illinois
Farmers and landowners wanting to learn more about the new farm programs and the sign up process can visit the Farm Bill Toolbox online. It was developed by the ag economists at the University of Illinois and Ohio State. Just search Google for Farm Bill Toolbox and you’ll find a seven step decision making process. There is also a link from the Farm Bill Toolbox to USDA’s APAS (ay-pass) website.
APAS stands for Agricultural Policy Analysis System. Jonathan Coppess from the University of Illinois says the two systems are related to each other.
Quote Summary - The way we look at it is that the APAS site gives you the chance to calculate expected payments and the Farm Bill Toolbox is the education outreach and analysis. So, you may use the two in an interrelated way. In fact we often make presentations using both, jumping back and forth from the APAS Tools to the Decision Steps.
The seven Decision Steps in the Farm Bill Toolbox guide farmers and landowners through the sign up process. The APAS Tool allows them to put their own farm numbers into the programs to see how different scenarios would work over the project five year life of the new farm safety net. Those wanting a quick view can simply use a sample farm from their own county - no matter where they live in the nation.
Quote Summary - The sample farmers are very usually friendly way to get an idea what program payments might be expected in your county. You simply choose your state and county, and a projected price series - one from USDA, one from the Congressional Budget Office, or the or the FAPRI numbers - and APAS simulates a farm sized at about $500,000 in gross revenue. The models use historical values from the county and estimates payments for a farm of that size.
The APAS sample farm is a quick way to benchmark, says Coppess, the new farm programs and how they might perform in a given county under varying price scenarios and program choices. APAS estimates farm payments based on crop, price, and program choice.
Those wanting to use the APAS Tools and the Farm Bill Toolbox can find each online.
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The time to sign up for the farm programs has arrived. Decisions will need to be made in February and January. Read on for a quick lesson in the process, and then please visit the Farm Bill Toolbox website created by the ag economists at the University of Illinois. Landowners and farmers should find the seven step decision process in the toolbox very valuable as an aid to making the new farm program choices.
The deadline for making two of the three farm program choices is the end of February. University of Illinois Ag Economists Gary Schnitkey, Jonathan Coppess, & Nick Paulson along with The Ohio State’s Carl Zulauf penned an article about the acreage allocation and yield update decisions. It follows;
Base Acre and Yield Updating Decisions: Push to the Finish
The deadline for completing base acre and yield updating decisions is February 27th (see steps 2 and 3 of “7 Steps” on Farm Bill Toolbox). Choosing between alternatives for each of these decisions is relatively straight forward:
1) For yield updating, select the highest yield for each program crop.
2) For base acre reallocation, choose the allocation that maximizes acres in program crops with the highest payments, given that the desire is to maximize program payments.
While the decisions usually are straightforward, collecting the information and completing the process will take some time. For this reason, beginning the process now seems prudent.
Landowners Officially Make the Decisions
Decisions will be made for each Farm Service Agency (FSA) farm. For each farm, there will be a landowner who owns the farm. Under rental arrangement, there also will be a producer who farms the land.
Landowners are responsible for making the base acre reallocation and yield updating decisions. While the landowner officially makes the decisions, in many rental situations producers have the proper power of attorneys to complete paperwork for these decisions. FSA has a record of whether proper power of attorneys exists for each farm. If an appropriate power of attorney does not exist and the landowner wishes the producer to complete the process, a power of attorney will need to be signed for farmers or farm managers to complete the decisions. If a power of attorney does not exist, the landowner will need to complete the process for base acre and yield updating decisions.
Collect Yield Data
If program yields are to be updated, yields are required for each year the crop was planted from 2008 through 2012. Documentation is not required at signup. However, documentation will be required if the FSA farm is audited during the life of the Farm Bill. The method of documentation will need to be indicated at signup. In many cases, crop insurance records will be used to provide documentation. These records are the actual yearly yields used to calculate Actual Production History (APH) yields. An explanation of using crop insurance records for documentation is available here (farmdocdaily December 23, 2014).
It will not be uncommon that documentation for a yield will not exist for a year. For example, a producer may have only farmed the land in 2010 through 2012 and cannot obtain documentation for 2008 and 2009.
If a yield is provided without documentation under an audit, farm program payments may have to be repaid and a fine could result. When yield documentation does not exist, a plug yield will need to be used. The plug yield equals 75% of the county average. When documentation cannot be provided, the plug yield should be used for 2008 and 2009
Plug yields for each county and crop are publicly available. FSA has this information. They can be obtained from the Payment Yield Update tool on the APAS website. The plug yields also are contained in the Base Acre and Yield Updating tool, a Microsoft FAST spreadsheet available for download at the FAST website.
Yields can be reported to FSA using CCC–859. This form is available here.
Make an Appointment with FSA
An appointment should be made immediately with FSA. If possible, yields for updating should be completed before this meeting. Bringing completed CCC–859 forms will facility the signup process.
Yield Updating Decision
Two alternatives for the program yield will exist for each program crop (see farmdocdaily April 3, 2014 for more detail):
- The current program yield. These yields were reported for each FSA farm in a letter received from FSA in August 2014.
- The updated yield equal to 90% of the average of yields from 2008 through 2012. If a year’s actual yield is below the plug yield, the plug yield will be used instead of the actual yield. If an actual yield does not exist for a year in which the crop was planted, the plug yield will be used in the update yield calculation.
Choose the highest yield. The decision can differ by crop for an FSA farm.
Base Acre Reallocation Decision
There are total base acres on each FSA farm. Landowner will be given two alternatives for dividing those total base acres into acres for each program crop (see farmdocdaily March 6, 2014 for more detail):
- Current allocation of base acres on the farm. These acres were sent to landowners and producers in a letter received in August 2014.
- Reallocated base acres. Total base acres are reallocated based on plantings from 2009 through 2012. Actual plantings were described in a letter received in August 2014. Total base acres under reallocation will equal base acres if current base acres are retained.
This decision is important as Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage at the county level (ARC-CO) will make payments in 2014 through 2018 on base acres. Planted acres in those years will not influence payments.
Many individuals will wish to make the allocation that maximizes commodity program payments, suggesting that the allocation be selected that places most acres in the crops with the highest expected payments. Estimating expected payments by crop requires forecast of prices and yields in 2014 through 2018. Obviously, forecasts can be wrong and crop rankings can vary from forecast rankings. With the knowledge of potential differences, estimated expected payments per program crop by county are available in the sample farms section of APAS. These same estimates also are available in the Base Acre and Yield Updating tool (available at the FAST website).
Users can see expected payment per program crop under different price forecasts for individual counties. In most counties, however, the following ranking exists:
- Corn will have higher expected payment
- Wheat will have lower expected payments than corn
- Soybean will have lower expected payments than corn and wheat.
Corn and soybeans are only program crop: Given the above program crop ranking, choosing the acre alternative with the most corn acres likely will maximize program payments.
As an example take a farm whose current allocation is 60 acres of corn and 40 acres of soybeans. The reallocation alternative based on 2009 through 2012 plantings is 75 acres of corn and 25 acres of soybeans. Note that both alternatives total 100 total base acres. The above ranking suggests that the reallocated alternative (75 acres of corn and 25 acres of soybeans) will have the highest expected payments.
Corn, soybeans, and wheat are the program crops: When these three program crops exist, the reallocation with the lowest acres in soybeans while maximizing corn acres usually will result in the highest expected payments. Use of the Base Acre and Yield Updating Tool is advisable in these cases.
In many cases, making choices for base acre reallocation and yield updating will be relatively straightforward. Collecting yields, getting the proper power of attorneys, and signing proper election forms will take time. Beginning the process now is important. The process needs to be completed by February 27, 2015.
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University of Illinois College of ACES and The Ohio State University
Thursday, September 25, 2014, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the regulations for the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs created by the 2014 Farm Bill. Along with the regulation, Secretary Vilsack also announced the public release of the web-based decision tools that have been developed under cooperative agreements with the Farm Service Agency. This article provides more information on these items.
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Todd E. Gleason, Farm Broadcaster
College of ACES / Univesity of Illinois Extension
firstname.lastname@example.org or (217) 333-9697
Click on an event for complete details...
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|timeline posted to USDA FSA website August 1, 2014|
Online tools are under development at the University of Illinois to aid producers throughout the nation. Those tools may be ready by the official end of summer (September 22, 2014), but have not yet been released.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2014 — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia announced today that farmers should start receiving notices updating them on their current base acres, yields and 2009-2012 planting history. The written updates are an important part of preparing agricultural producers for the new safety net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill.
“We’re sending these reports to make sure that farmers and ranchers have key information as they make critical decisions about programs that impact their livelihood,” said Garcia. “It’s important that producers take a few minutes to cross check the information they receive with their own farm records. If the information is correct, no further action is needed at this time. But if our letter is incomplete or incorrect, producers need to contact their local FSA county office as soon as possible.”
Verifying the accuracy of data on a farm’s acreage history is an important step for producers enrolling in the upcoming Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program and the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program. Later this summer, farmers and ranchers will have an opportunity to update their crop yield information and reallocate base acres.
“We’re working hard to prepare and educate farmers on the new programs created by the 2014 Farm Bill,” added Garcia. “I encourage producers to bring their USDA notice to any scheduled appointments with the local FSA county office. This will help ensure they have the information they need with them to discuss the available program options.”
By mid-winter all producers on a farm will be required to make a one-time, unanimous and irrevocable election between price protection and county revenue protection or individual revenue protection for 2014-2018 crop years. Producers can expect to sign contracts for ARC or PLC for the 2014 and 2015 crop years in early 2015.
Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (includes short grain rice and temperate japonica rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed, and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity.