Progress is being made by the Farm Service Agency to implement the 2002 Farm Legislation. We now know that the Farm Service Agency Service Centers will begin accepting yield updates in mid-September. On Oct. 1, producers can apply for the direct and counter-cyclical payment program. All applications for updates must be received before April 1, 2003.
That said, many producers have been and continue to search for answers as to how the farm legislation will impact their operation. Until recently my only decision-aid answer for Arkansas producers was an Excel spreadsheet and web based base and yield analyzer, developed by Dr. Peter Zimmel with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri. http://www.aragriculture.org/agfoodpolicy/default.asp 
We now know that the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University is working with the Farm Service Agency on a version of their decision aid software that the Farm Service Agency will use to help producers make more informed decisions on base and yield options. At some point in the immediate future, we will have access to the FSA version of the Texas A&M software. Until then, producers that want to evaluate their farm’s alternatives under the current legislation may find the full version web based software at the following web address http://www.afpc.tamu.edu/models/bya/ 
Both Texas A&M and University of Missouri decision aid packages will help a producer gain insight into their base and yield options. The authors emphasize that the software is intended for educational use, and it was developed solely to provide information so producers could better understand the consequences of the options available for updating Base Acres and Farm Program Yields.
Next, we will discuss the base acre update options and payment yield options.
Dr. Bobby Coats is an agricultural economist who works in farm policy and economic planning with the University of Arkansas Extension Service in Little Rock.