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Farm Bill Decision Deadlines for Row Crop Farmers


Farm Bill To Do ListEvery row crop farmer has some decisions to make regarding new programs outlined in the 2014 Farm Bill.  The following are the final deadline dates for several key decisions.  Due to the large number of farms in the region that will be needing help with these decisions, it would be advisable to make appointments with the corresponding agencies well in advance of the deadlines.

1.  February 27, 2015 – Update Base and Yield

Since 2002 Base acreage and the average yield for those acres has not been updated. Base is tied to the land itself, so the land owner must make the decision to update base acreage assignment, and production history will be needed from 2009-2012 to update base yields. Based on the legislation, no new base acres can be added, but the base acreage from 2002 can be reassigned to actual crops grown and the accompanying yield updated.  Chances are pretty good that your average yields have improved over what was designated 14 years ago, if you have the production records to prove it.  A 10% improvement in yield could make a significant increase in the payment received over the life of this Farm Bill.  One suggestion to speed up this process is to contact your crop insurance agent, since they should have acreage and yield records that you reported from previous years.

Download the Tools to help with this:

FSA Base Reallocation Tool

FSA Yield Update Tool

2.  February 28, 2015 – Crop Insurance Sign up

The new program in the 2014 Farm Bill for cotton producers is called STAX.  This program is a subsidized crop insurance program offered through USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), not the traditional Farm Service Agency (FSA).  Cotton no longer has base acres and instead will be covered only by crop insurance.  Cotton farmers will need to sign up for this coverage with a private crop insurance broker, to participate in the new program.  STAX is subsidized by the government at the 80% level, so for every $ 10 worth of insurance coverage, a farmer spends $ 2 on premiums and RMA covers the other $ 8.  This is a considerably higher contribution than past crop insurance programs for cotton.  The Cotton Council worked very hard to get this improved insurance product for cotton producers.

Crop insurance agencies also offer another new program called Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) which can add additional yield or revenue protection to crops selected for Price Loss Coverage (PLC) through FSA.

3.  March 31 – Choose FSA ARC or PLC Crop Coverage Options


If you don’t  sign up for commodity coverage with FSA by March 31, you won’t have crop coverage for 2014, and will default to PLC for 2015 coverage for all commodities for the remainder of the Farm Bill.

The farmer or producer, not the land owner determines from the three options for crop specific coverage programs. The producer can choose Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC).  The ARC coverage also has two options, ARC Individual or ARC County.  ARC Individual is based on individual farm production for all covered crops, but is only applied to 65% of the Base Acreage.  Where as ARC County requires no documentation of individual farm production and is based on county averages and is applied to 85% of the base acreage for a given commodity,  or PLC for each commodity that is actually grown. This decision is for the life of the Farm Bill. The Illinois model suggests that PLC should be the better choice for Peanuts and wheat, but Arc Co may be the better choice for other commodities.  There are two online models available to make estimates on how these programs will work over the life of this Farm Bill.  With these models, individuals can get some guidance to help make these decisions more clear for specific farms.  Like most spreadsheet models, it take some time to enter all the data to get a more specific answer.

Illinois Model (easier to use with sample farms for quick analysis)

Texas A&M Model (more precise, but requires more data input)

This is just a brief overview of a fairly complex new system of the new crop programs provided in the 2014 Farm Bill. FSA has a website with all sorts of fact sheets and links to additional information:  FSA ARC/PLC

UF/IFAS Agriculture Extension Agents have been trained to help producers with these decisions, and the use of the decision models and tools provided in this article.  If you need help, please contact your local agent:  County Ag Extension Agents.



Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Jackson County Extension Director, Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/01/17/farm-bill-decision-deadlines-for-row-crop-farmers/