Farming and your freedom: Don’t know which farm program to use? USDA will help

Every farmer knows the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) harbors a giant number of farm programs under its wide Farm Bill umbrella. How to figure out which ones are best for you and your farm?
It seems the Agricultural Act of 2014 (ye olde farm bill) makes available $6 million in funds for what the agency calls “educational outreach” for farmers to analyze the various programs later this summer. Half the money goes to Texas A&M University to produces online tools to aid farmers in deciding which program is best for their farm. The other half will go to state extension services to begin holding educational meetings in farm country this summer.
According to Agriculture Online these meetings will be the beginning of when farmers decide whether to sign up for Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC), which is based on either county-level or farm-level revenue (Price Loss Coverage), with payments tied to fixed reference prices.
The USDA will send letters to producers in mid-summer notifying them of their current base acreage and yields and their 2009-2012 planting history. The info will be used to reallocate base acres and update yields.
Late this year, after the educational process, farmers will be able to make a one-time selection of either the ARC or the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program for all five years of the current farm bill. Early next year, they can sign up for 2014 and 2015 ARC and PLC, depending upon which programs they selected at the end of this year.
Agriculture Online said it might seem unnecessary to choose programs you want for the next five years, but each year you have to sign up for programs in order to receive your payments. The website said that although farmers won’t receive detaiIed information about the programs until late this summer, the Farm Service Agency (FAS) website has projections of payment rates of PLC programs for the 2014 crop.
Payments, Ag Online noted, will be determined from national average  prices for the 2014 marketing year. Best get to a meeting in your county.
I’ll see ya!

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