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Schmidt: Farm bill decision tools

August 10, 2014
Yolanda Schmidt - County Agent , Pierce County Tribune

Last week, I attended a 2014 Farm Bill training session in Minot at the North Central Research Extension Center. This was one of six training sessions held across the state for extension agents and FSA county directors to prepare us in assisting landowners and producers in deciding among the various alternatives provided in the 2014 Farm Bill.

We received a basic overview of the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program options provided in the 2014 Farm Bill. The decision making process regarding these new commodity programs has three pieces:

1. Base acres - retain or reallocate: Producers/landowners will have a one-time opportunity to reallocate base acres or retain base acres. Base acres are as determined on Sept. 30, 2013. Producers/landowners will choose between the current set of crop bases or a new mix of crop bases with no increase or decrease in total base acres. Reallocated bases are the average percent of acreage planted and/or considered planted for covered commodities from 2009 to 2012. This is probably one of the most difficult and important decisions to make as knowing what crop bases are will likely impact the choice between PLC or ARC.

2. Yield update: Landowners/producers will have a one-time opportunity to update yields on a crop-by-crop or farm-by-farm basis. The calculation for the yield update will be 90 percent of the average of annual yields for years a crop was planted from 2008 to 2012. Landowners can choose to accept the higher of this calculation or current counter-cyclical yield. The yield update will be used to determine payments with PLC.

3. Producer election: Once Base Acres and Yields are set, then the election of PLC or ARC takes place. A tentative timeline from FSA indicated that landowners and operators would be receiving information regarding base reallocation and yield update at the end of July or early August. Landowners will then have 60 to 90 days to make their decision on base reallocation and yield updates. Program election between PLC and ARC is anticipated to occur from December through February.

In late March of this year, an education tool was made available from the North Dakota State University Extension Service for evaluating certain options under the commodity title of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (farm bill). The program is available at and is designed to assist producers with these decisions, given their national average marketing year price and county average yield projections. This program does not consider the farm level ARC option or the possible benefits of the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) crop insurance available with PLC enrollment.

NDSU Extension staff and FSA staff are prepared to help producers navigate the program. For more information about the ARC/PLC program please go to the following website: and select the "Programs and Services" dropdown menu and select "ARC/PLC Program".

The Farm Bill Decision Aid, a tool, created by Andy Swenson, NDSU Extension farm management specialist, may be downloaded from the following website:

You may also contact Yolanda at the NDSU Extension Service Pierce County office for assistance using the Farm Bill Decision Aid tool by calling 776-6234 ext. 5 or by email at



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