Farmers get some breathing room on base, yield decisions

Farmers get some breathing room on base, yield decisions

“If their current yields are relatively low, updating them can make a big difference no matter which program option they choose,” said Anita Wilson. “These are the yields that will be placed in our records for the remainder of this farm bill and for the next farm bill, as well.”

Farmers who wish to reallocate base acres and update yields can contact their county Farm Service Agency office and make an appointment to do so later if they cannot complete the paperwork by Friday’s national deadline.

Tony Franco, chief of farm programs for the Farm Service Agency in Arkansas, confirmed the appointment-setting process is now in effect during a University of Arkansas Extension Service Webinar on farm bill decision-making this morning.

“We are up against it on the deadline for reallocating base acres and updating yields so farmers can come in, sign a register and make an appointment to hold these discussions later,” said Franco. “But it’s important landowners come to their county office and do this before the close of business on Friday.”

Anita Wilson, agricultural farm program specialist with the FSA in Arkansas, said it can pay farmers to make the effort to accomplish those tasks.

“If their current yields are relatively low, updating them can make a big difference no matter which program option they choose,” she said. “These are the yields that will be placed in our records for the remainder of this farm bill and for the next farm bill, as well.”

Farm Service Agency officials in Arkansas and other states had been reluctant to speculate on whether farmers would be able to sign a register and make an appointment for reallocating bases and updating yields later.

“We have been trying to stick very closely to these deadlines (Feb. 27 for base reallocation and yield updates and March 31 for program election – Agricultural Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage),” said Mike Sullivan, state director for the Farm Service Agency in Mississippi, when asked about the possibility of an extension in late January.

Judith Canales, Texas Farm Service Agency executive director, made an announcement about the registry process during the Texas Ag Forum in Austin last Friday. Announcements by other states followed.

In this morning’s webinar on “Factors Impacting Crop Mix Decisions on Generic Base Acres” on the University of Arkansas Extension Service webinar series, Larry Falconer, Extension agricultural economist with Mississippi State University, said farmers may need to change their thinking on farm programs.

“The old rules of thumb may not apply any longer,” said Dr. Falconer.

Since the 1996 farm bill, land-grant universities have rarely included farm program payments in their farm management budgets. Falconer showed examples of how farm program decisions can have a major impact on the outcomes of farmers’ cropping decisions under the new law.

Falconer and other agricultural economists at Mississippi State University have developed a computer software program that can show farmers how selecting different crop mixes can affect farmer incomes in the remaining four years of the farm bill. To access the software, visit http://blogs.msucares.com/agecon/.

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