Texas: Online Tool Can Help with Farm Program Decisions

The Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University is part of a $3 million education grant in providing online decision aids to assist farmers with the 2014 farm bill.

“There are a lot of moving parts to the new farm bill and farmers will have to give careful consideration electing which type of program they choose,” said Dr. Joe Outlaw, co-director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center, College Station, and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist.

“The online decision aid tool will help producers and landowners choose the program option that best suits their operation,” Outlaw said. “These choices are complex, though the decision aid will help reduce some of potential confusion by educating producers of the possible future outcomes of  the numerous program options on their respective farms.”

Outlaw said the decision aid, available at here,will help producers determine which options are best for them.

New programs that are part of the 2014 farm bill – Agricultural Risk Coverage, also known as ARC, and Price Loss Coverage, also known as PLC – are commodity safety net programs and take the place of direct payments. Both programs offer farmers protection when market forces cause substantial decreases in crop prices and/or revenues.

Producers will have through late spring of 2015 to select which program works best for their businesses.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided $3 million to the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M and the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri, which co-leads the National Association of Agricultural and Food Policy, along with the University of Illinois, lead for the National Coalition for Producer Education, to develop the decision aids.

“We’re committed to giving farmers as much information as we can so they can make an informed decision between these programs,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These resources will help farm owners and producers boil the information down, understand what their options are and ultimately make the best decision on which choice is right for them. We are very grateful to our partners for their phenomenal work in developing these new tools within a very short time frame.”

Starting Sept. 29, farm owners may begin visiting their local Farm Service Agency offices if they want to update their yield history and/or reallocate base acres, the first step before choosing which new program best serves their risk management needs. Letters sent this summer enabled farm owners and producers to analyze their crop planting history in order to decide whether to keep their base acres or reallocate them according to recent plantings.

The next step in USDA’s safety net implementation is scheduled for this winter when all producers on a farm begin making their election, which will remain in effect for 2014-2018 crop years between the options offered by ARC and PLC.


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