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Farmers may have grain in the bin before farm bill details are out
With a long awaited farm bill signed into law, it’s now time to start putting the programs to work. Yvonne Lesicko, Ohio Farm Bureau’s senior director of state and national policy, noted the legislation is significantly different than past bills.
“It provides the security net that farmers need for factors that are beyond their control, and it creates programs that drive producers to farm to the market instead of the government program,” she said.
Among the most significant changes were the elimination of direct payments and other crop support programs known as ACRE and SURE.
Now it’s up to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to begin implementing the bill, including several new programs included in the commodity title.
“There is a lot on USDA’s plate to get done so farmers can be ready for the 2014 crop year,” Lesicko said.
One choice crop farmers will make is whether they are going to participate in the revenue-based Agriculture Risk Coverage Program (ARC) or the price-based Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program.
The choice is significant, because farmers will be locked in to the program for the entirety of the farm bill.
“Potentially, you will have your entire 2014 crop harvested before you even know the details of those programs and before you will choose which one of those programs you actually want to be in,” Lesicko said.
However, she points out that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because farmers will have production data to be able to see which program would benefit them most.
“At the same time, farmers need to make sure they’re not just looking at the 2014 crop year, because whatever they choose will carry them through to 2018,” she said.
Lesicko also noted that there is something in the bill for nearly all segments of Ohio agriculture, including disaster relief programs for livestock farmers, grants that fund research for specialty crops, organic certification cost share provisions and even programs for Christmas tree growers and beekeepers.
For dairy farmers, a new margin-based program will be introduced later this year. However, a supply management proposal was not included in the final legislation.
“Dairy is one of the most volatile markets that we have. And so this program will help address the difference between what it costs to feed their herd and what they’re actually getting when they go to sell milk,” Lesicko said.
Progress on Implementation
USDA has announced that farmers and ranchers can now sign-up for disaster assistance programs, reestablished and strengthened by the 2014 Farm Bill.
Applications are currently being accepted for the Conservation Stewardship Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
During the week of April 7, USDA announced its 2014 Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program funding.
Find more farm bill implementation updates at www.usda.gov.