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Schmidt: Farm bill informational meeting Nov. 25

By Staff | Nov 7, 2014

The Farm Service Agency and NDSU Extension Service in Pierce County are partnering to hold a Farm Bill Informational Meeting to discuss provisions of the Agricultural Act of 2014, more commonly known as the Farm Bill, and the decisions that producers and landowners will need to make to participate in the farm program.

The 2014 Farm Bill authorizes three program election options: Price Loss Coverage (PLC), Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) on a county basis and ARC on an individual or farm level basis.

To participate in the 2014 farm program, farm operators and/or owners will need to make one-time decisions for the 2014 through 2018 crop years on whether to retain or reallocate crop bases, to retain or update program payment yields and to select the type of coverage (PLC or ARC on either the county or individual level).

The informational meeting will explain the program election, base allocation and yield update process.

The Pierce County Farm Bill Informational Meeting will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at Dakota Farms in Rugby at 1:30 p.m. This meeting is free and open to the general public. Producers, landowners, and other interested individuals are encouraged to attend.

This meeting is a collaborative effort of the Farm Service Agency and NDSU Extension Service in Pierce County. For more information contact the Pierce County FSA office at 776-5821 or the Pierce County Extension Service at 776-6234 ext. 5.

Landowners farm program decisions

Landowners and operators have a couple of decisions to make when it comes to the 2014 farm bill even if they do not currently farm their land or have never been a farm operator.

The 2014 farm program provides the opportunity to retain current base acres (the acres used to calculate any farm program payments) or reallocate crop base acres based on covered crops that were planted or considered planted during the 2009 to 2012 time period. Covered crops are defined as those considered to be program crops under the 2014 farm bill. Most crops are considered covered crops with only a few exceptions such as dry beans, fruits and vegetables.

Under the new farm bill, landowners also have the option to update program yields. Updated yields will be calculated on actual production from 2008 through 2012. Yields for each year during the 2008-2012 time periods that a covered commodity was produced will be averaged. Years when the crop was not planted will be excluded. If the new yield exceeds the current payment yield by 10 percent, the land owner has the option to accept the higher yield. The updated yield will be 90 percent of the average yield in 2008-2012. Landowners may also choose to update some crop yields and leave others unchanged. Yields can be updated regardless of whether base acres are updated or not.

At this time, updated yields will only apply to covered commodities enrolled in the PLC option, but updated yields will remain with the farm and could come into play at some point down the road, possibly applying to other programs in future farm bills. As such, the decision to update program yields is fairly straightforward and there is no reason not to update program yields if possible.

Base acres and program yields remain with the acreage so if the land is sold or there is a change in the farm operator, the options chosen to update yields and reallocate base acres would remain the same throughout the 2014-2018 crop years. While these options are considered to be landowner decisions, landowners should confer with current operators regarding these decisions. In some cases, land owners have rental contracts that include a “power of attorney” clause that grants the farm operator the power to make all decisions related to FSA programs. In those cases, the landowner doesn’t need to be involved in these decisions should they choose to just leave it up to the tenant.

The final decision will be to select the type of coverage: PLC or ARC on either the county or individual level. Whether the landowner has to be involved in this decision or not depends on the rental agreement. Under a straight cash rental agreement the farm operator makes the coverage decision while under all other rental agreements such as share rent, all parties that share in the risk including the landowner need to make a unanimous program election.

If no election is made, the farm or farm unit will not be covered by the farm program in 2014 and will be ineligible for any payments made in 2014. In addition, by default the farm will only be eligible for the PLC option in the 2015-2018 crop years.

Landowners with questions on the 2014 farm bill should first check with their current farm operator as they will likely be able to provide some guidance or suggestions regarding the decisions required under the current farm bill. The next best source of official information on the 2014 farm bill would be your local FSA office.

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