Minding Ag's Business

Grade the Farm Bill Calculators

When you cut through the technicalities, the "safety net" in the 2014 Farm Act is really designed as insurance against abrupt farm revenue or price disasters. It's not a whole lot different than thinking about Social Security as old age insurance: If you study the system, you know your odds of not running out of money in your lifetime improve if you wait until your full-retirement age (or later) to collect. If you study the probability of price and yield swings in agriculture, you'll improve your odds of being eligible for a farm program payment. The thing is, you need a super computer to assess the best options five years into the future..

This last farm bill, Congress authorized two university sponsored super-calculator programs, plus money for outreach through webinars, YouTube videos and other educational efforts. It's no shock that with better education (in my opinion), 91% of corn farms elected Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) -County, vs. just 4% for its near-identical predecessor under the 2008 Farm Act. Even counting the possible threat of a potential 7% cutback in 2014 farm program payments due to budget sequestration, the nation's corn growers--as well as rice and peanut producers enrolled in Price Loss Coverage programs--stand to collect sizable checks in most parts of the nation this October.

Now both the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Texas A&M are conducting studies to learn more about farmers’ and land owners’ decision processes, including what tools/resources were used to help make program choices.

To participate in the Illinois study, paste http://go.illinois.edu/… into your internet browser.

The Agricultural Food and Policy Center at Texas A&M has also emailed users, asking them to rate its farm bill tool set. If you registered to use the Texas tool, take their survey at https://usda.afpc.tamu.edu/….

Now it's your turn to grade the farm bill professors.

For alerts on DTN farm business coverage, follow me on Twitter@MarciaZTaylor


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andrew mohlman
9/9/2015 | 8:18 AM CDT
More like a safety net for end users. When farm bill in question prices were good farm bill puts lid on prices might not work in high consumption world