Farm Bill Education

Crop producers are faced with a complex Farm Bill and important decisions to make. My colleague in Hamilton County, Todd Whitney wrote a good article on this so I’ve decided to share it in this week’s column. Landowners and producers should verify that their FSA Farm Numbers are correct for 2014 base acres and 2014 CC (counter-cyclical) program yields. Then, one-time farm program option decisions will need to be determined which will last for the next five years; following sign-ups.FarmBillPic

As a result, Farm Bill informational & meetings will be conducted in every county across Nebraska with each educational session running about 2½ hours. Check with your local Farm Services Agency (FSA) or Nebraska Extension Service (UNL) office for more details. These sessions are not required but may be helpful regarding long-term decisions.

Close training dates are as follows: Nov. 21 – Saline county (Saline Center) – 9 am, Nov. 25 – Hamilton county – Leadership Center (Aurora) – 9:00 am; Dec. 8 – Hamilton county – Leadership Center (Aurora) – 1:30 pm; Dec. 9 – York County Fairgrounds (York) – 1:30 pm; Dec. 15 – Adams County Fairgrounds (Hastings) (time TBA); Dec. 16 – Fillmore County Fairgrounds (Geneva) – 9:00 am; and Dec. 16 – Clay County Fairgrounds (Clay Center) – 1:30 pm.

Although this farm bill has many details, there are several key points. First, this new farm bill requires that each FSA Farm have an unanimous decision regarding sign-up options for all landlord owners, tenants and producers involved in any share leases on the designated “FSA Farm Number.” (Note that “if” landowners are using cash leases or variable/flexible leases, then the sign-up options become the tenants’ decision). Therefore, unless landowners receive a “share” of the farm production, the one-time option decision(s) sign-up will be the responsibility of the cash-leasing tenants for the upcoming year; and their sign-up decisions will stay with the FSA farm for the next five years; even if the lease is terminated during the next five years.

Second, each FSA Farm will have the option to update payment yields and reallocate base acres prior to the February 27, 2015 sign-up deadline. This decision will allow landowners and tenants to either keep their current yields or update their yields based on 2008 – 2012 yields (90% of the average). Managers may choose not to update yields if these updated yields are less than their commodity current yield. They may also choose to use current yields if they may not be able to document their updated yields such as not owning the farm in 2008 & 2009; or if grain production was fed to livestock without documentation. FSA Farm base acre decisions will also need to be determined by the Feb. 27th deadline. The “total” current base acres can’t be increased, but the FSA Farm managers will have the freedom to choose their allocations based on previous years’ base acres. This one-time sign-up decision will then set the base commodity acres for the next five years for potential payment calculations regardless of what crops are grown on the FSA Farm(s) during the next five years.

The last sign-up is the “program choice” deadline prior to March 31, 2015; although there is a possibility that this deadline could be extended. Farm managers will need to choose among the Agricultural Risk Coverage – county (ARC-CO); Price Loss Coverage (PLC); and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC-IC) options for each FSA farm. These decisions may best be determined using a computer farm bill options comparison.

More information regarding the new farm bill options is also available through our UNL Extension website http://cropwatch.unl.edu. Locally, the Fillmore County Farm Bill workshop on December 16th is being sponsored by Heartland Bank, Walter Insurance, Cornerstone Bank and Generations Bank; a light meal will be provided following the Farm Bill program. This program is also in collaboration with the Fillmore County Farm Service Agency. To register for a meal, please call our office at (402) 759-3712.

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