Ag Policy Blog

Looking at Base Acre Decisions Facing Farmers

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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On Thursday, DTN held a webinar with ag economist Carl Zulauf from Ohio State University and farm-management specialist Gary Schnitkey from the University of Illinois.

Farmers and others who were on the webinar had a lot of questions about base acres. Here are some details from the webinar and USDA's Farm Service Agency website.

Farmers will be able to reallocate base acres based on crop production from 2009-2012. You should have already received a letter on that. If not, contact your local Farm Service Agency office.

Farmers will not be allowed to increase base acres. The total base can't go above the level it was on Sept. 30, 2013.

If the land has no base, it will not get any even though a farmer may have been growing crops on that land and has yield history, etc. No new base acres can be added.

Farmers do get the change to update their counter-cyclical yield on commodities. FSA will allow update of the yield based on 90% of the farm's average from 2009-2012. Or a farmer can opt to stick with the current counter-cyclical program yield. (Apparently software for this will not be out until sometime this fall.)

A good question is whether crop insurance yields will be allowed for documentation for updating base yields. That's a good question. Under the 2008 farm bill, farmers were allowed to use insurance records to update yields when enrolling in the old ACRE program.

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Later this year, or early next year, the sign up will begin for the Agricultural Risk Coverage program (ARC) or the Price Loss Coverage program (PLC.)

Farmers and landowners are going to have to make the call to reallocate their base acres months before they are given a chance to sign up for ARC or PLC. You should have already received a letter on base reallocation.

The farm program goes with the land. If a farmer picks up rental base acreage or buys a farm with base acres over the next five years, the farm programs will be the program that the prior tenant-landlord had enrolled those acres in.

Farmers with different FSA farms can choose different commodity programs for those farms.

Another consideration for farmers is the role of landlords in making decisions for commodity programs. When signing up rented land for ARC or PLC, the landlords have to agree with the decision. Farmers and landowners who signed up for ACRE after the 2008 farm bill will recall the routine.

If farmers and landlords do not agree on a decision then payments on that farm is lost for 2014 and the land will be automatically placed in PLC for the rest of the farm bill.

Cotton base acres become "generic base acres." This is an interesting twist with cotton base. Because cotton no longer has a commodity program, those base acres become generic base. This, is a farmer enrolled the farm in ARC for corn, any generic base planted to corn that year will be treated as corn base for the year those generic acres are planted in corn. If the farm is enrolled in PLC for soybeans and the generic base is planted in soybeans, then those acres will be treated as soybean base for that year.

CRP acres: Farmers and landowners will still get to enroll base acres in ARC or PLC for land coming out the Conservation Reserve Program.

A couple of other details: Right now, we do not have a sign up date for ARC or PLC. That likely will not come until late in the year.

The Farm Service Agency has added some updated base acre, yield and price information on the agency's farm-program website.…

Thursday's webinar was slightly more than one-hour long if you wish to watch it. You may be required to register.…

If you have any questions about base acres or the new commodity programs, send me an email. I may not know the answer but will see if I can find out.

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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