The American Soybean Association is stressing to farmers not to toss out those NASS yield surveys this year. Instead, fill them out and do so accurately.
In a post on soybean association's website, leaders of the group stressed the importance of NASS survey data in trying to ensure the Agricultural Risk Coverage-County program works correctly for producers. Roughly 97% of soybean base acres are enrolled in ARC-County.
Since last fall, commodity groups have gone round and round with the Farm Service Agency over county yield calculations for ARC. Problems arose largely because of disparity in payments from one county to the next, as well as at least some complaints when several counties in the same region were pegged with identical yields for a commodity.
FSA begins its ARC-County yield by relying on the NASS yield surveys. For a county to qualify under NASS yield data, at least 30 farmers in a county must return surveys to NASS and those surveys must constitute at least 25% of the county's harvested acres. If that threshold isn't met, then the Farm Service Agency will turn to the Risk Management Agency and get yield data from reports farmers file with crop insurers.
The soybean growers and others would like USDA to change its policies to use the RMA yields as the first option for calculating the ARC program and bypass the NASS yields.
But here's a kicker. At least some farmers have a tendency to overstate the yield and production information to insurers in years in which they aren't filing a claim. Those farmers do so because they believe it will help their production history in years they do file a claim. Those overstated yields, if done by a whole lot of producers in any given county, would then translate into lowering the chances of an ARC-County payment. ASA noted that issue in its column:
"However, since reported RMA yields are frequently higher than NASS yields, payments to producers in counties where RMA yields are used can be substantially lower than payments in counties using NASS yields."
Still, to establish consistency in dealing with these ARC-County payment disparities, ASA's delegates voted in February in favor of using the RMA yields instead of the NASS yields for ARC-County. The Farm Service Agency declined to make such a change. Thus, at the ASA board meeting in July, the group voted to encourage farmers to file those NASS surveys to "reduce the number of county yield discrepancies and make ARC-County more defensible in advance of the debate on the next farm bill."
Meanwhile, ASA also supports appropriation language that would allow state FSA committees a say in adjusting yield discrepancies that would lead to payment disparities from county-to-county. That appropriations language still needs to pass Congress before it could be implemented.
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