The first step has producers and landowners visiting their local Farm Service Agency to update their yield history and/or reallocate base acres. Letters were sent this summer so they could analyze their crop planting history in order to decide whether to keep their base acres or reallocate them according to recent plantings. Those decisions need to be made before farmers and landowners decide whether to sign up for the new Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program or the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program, which is offered on both an individual and county basis. The first payments will be allocated in October 2015 for any 2014 crop losses.
The decision of whether to use PLC, ARC Individual or ARC County is a major one because once producers are enrolled, they must stay with it through the 2018 crop year. The programs offer farmers protection when uncontrollable factors such as weather or market forces cause substantial drops in crop prices and/or revenues.
Online tools can help farmers figure out what each program will mean for them under possible future scenarios. For farms with more than one producer, the decision on which program to choose must be unanimous or no payment will be made for the 2014 crop year and the farm will default to PLC going forward. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urged farmers to talk with Extension experts, crop insurance agents, loan officers and others before deciding which program is best for their operation.
Steve Mauer, executive director of Ohio FSA, recommended producers and landowners not wait until the last minute to visit FSA offices because their information may have parts missing or need to be revised, which takes time.
• Now until Feb. 28, 2015: Base reallocation and yield updates to be completed for each Farm Service Agency farm.
• Nov. 17, 2014 to March 31, 2015: Sign-up for Agricultural Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage.
• Mid April through summer 2015: Producers sign contracts for 2014 and 2015 crop years.
• October 2015: Payments, if needed, distributed for 2014 crop year.