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Hill and Furrow

Register for Regional Farm Bill Seminars to be held in January and February

Throughout January and February, University of Illinois Extension Agricultural Economists, in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture's Farm Services Agency and the Illinois Farm Bureau, will be holding 14 complimentary regional meetings to help walk people through the 2014 Farm Bill Commodity Support Programs, important decisions that need to be made before February and March deadlines and webtools that can help in the decision-making process.

Several of the Regional Seminars will be held in Western Illinois:

January 26  - Galesburg - 8-11 AM - Lake Story Pavilion

January 26  - Moline       - 1-4 PM   - Stony Creek Inn

February 6  - Macomb    - 8-11 AM - Spoon River Outreach Center


Upcoming deadlines for program decisions may make seminar attendence worthwhile for both landowners and crop producers. Title I of the 357 page "Agricultural Act of 2014", better known as the "2014 Farm Bill", sets national policy for the commodity support programs that will help crop producers to better weather risks during the 2014 through 2018 crop production and marketing years. While direct, counter-cyclical, and ACRE (Average Crop Revenue Election) payments have been eliminated in the 2014 Farm Bill, there are three new commodity support programs for crop producers to choose from: Agriculture Risk Coverage - County Option (ARC-CO), Agriculture Risk Coverage- Individual Farm Coverage (ARC-IC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC).

This past summer landowners and crop producers should have received a letter from their county Farm Services Agency (FSA) office summarizing both the historical base acres and yield history of each of their FSA farms. This and documents that can help in verifying 2008-2012 yields of FSA farms can help in the decision-making process. Producers and landowners are urged to keep lines of communication open during this process, as decisions will be made only once, cannot be changed, and will last for the life of the 2014 Farm Bill.

To help land-owners and crop producers better understand the potential impact(s) of their program decisions on future commodity support payments Economists in the University of Illinois Department of Agriculture and Consumer Economics, in collaboration with the Farm Services Agency and other land-grant universities, have developed a set of online tools, known as the Farm Bill Toolbox (Figure). The Toolbox’s “ARC-PLC Decision Steps” feature walks people through seven steps, guiding them through the decisions required for each FSA farm.

Using this tool, landowners will be able to easily, and systematically decide whether to keep historical base acres and yields or whether to make changes that more accurately reflect more recent planting and yield histories for each FSA farm. Crop producers can use the tools to decide among the three commodity support programs using different projected commodity prices and data from either a county-based "sample farm" or a specific FSA farm.

While there is no debate about of the importance of the 2014 Farm Bill decisions, there is no incentive and may actually be a disincentive to making these decisions in advance of the deadlines. More current yields and projected price information can only result in better informed decisions. The deadline for landowners to make changes to base acres and yields is February 27, 2015 while the deadline for crop producers to make program choices is March 31, 2015.