Program decision deadline nears

We are rapidly approaching the mid-March deadline for farmers to make a decision to elect farm programs known as ARC and PLC.

ARC, or agriculture risk coverage, is revenue based while PLC, or price loss coverage, is a fixed price program.

“In general you are choosing on a crop by crop basis,” explains Jonathan Coppess with the University of Illinois Gardner Agriculture policy program. “If I’ve got corn base acres, I make a different decision than soybean base acres.”

ARC-CO uses county average yields while ARC-IC is individual county coverage which is an entire set of base acres for an FSA farm.

This is basically the same decision farmers had coming out of the 2014 farm bill, although it was a five year decision back then and this time, the decision can be revisited in 2021. The current signup just covers the 2019 and 2020 crop years.

“We have developed a lot of online tools with the Farm Doc project and through the Gardner Agriculture policy program. We’ve got a web-based online calculator that farmers can estimate payments with,” added Coppess.

Based on plenty of research, many are leaning toward electing PLC on corn and ARC-CO for soybeans.

In addition to the basic program election, farmers have an option to update their program yields, which is only used in the PLC payment calculation. The deadline for this is September 30. It is a decision which also involves the landowner since the yield record stays with that farm.

“We advise everybody to run numbers for their farm,” said Coppess. “The decision is fairly straightforward for corn and soybeans, it is the 2013-2017 average yields multiplied by a factor of 0.81.”

FSA has an EZ form you can fill out online for a better understanding of updating information or you can visit for assistance.

Since growers don’t always have the opportunity to update yields, Brenda Dozier with COUNTRY Financial suggests doing it.

“The updated yields won’t get used until 2020,” Dozier told attendees at a crop meeting in Bloomington.

Dozier feels positive changes were made to ARC in the current farm bill as physical location determines the county of payment. Also, RMA crop insurance yields are used rather than NASS yields in the yield calculations.

Regarding crop insurance, there are new benefits to veteran farmers. This covers honorably discharged veterans in the past five years. Also, flexibility has been added to cover cropping.

“If you follow good farming practices, then your crop after the cover crop gets a full insurance guarantee,” Dozier noted.

There is also a new federal crop hemp policy for 2020.

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