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Growers still waiting on D.C. to pick crop insurance plan

 

 

By MICHELE F. MIHALJEVICH

Indiana Correspondent

 

WOODBURN, Ind. — As farmers begin the process of enrolling in crop safety net programs required under the 2014 farm bill, some information and tools designed to help them decide on the best option for their farms aren’t available yet, a representative of John Deere Insurance Co. said last week.

"If I could encourage you to do anything, I’d say just stay tuned," said Khris Montgomery, a regional supervisor with the company. "More information continues to roll out day by day."

As an example, Montgomery said several land grant universities were to have information about the options on their websites, along with online tools to help farmers make decisions about the programs. While some information has been posted, the calculators and other tools don’t appear to be available, he noted.

"This is really where public and private areas converge," he said. "We won’t have all the answers, as a lot of these programs aren’t finalized out of Washington, D.C., yet."

Montgomery spoke to about 50 people attending an informational session on the farm bill Aug. 21. The event was sponsored by Peoples Federal Savings Bank and Ag One Agency, Inc.

Farmers will need to decide between two plans – Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), Montgomery said. With ARC, producers may choose the County Level or Individual Farm Level option.

Under ARC County Level, payments are not dependent on planted acres. The program pays at 85 percent of base acres for the commodity. With the Individual Farm Level option, payments are dependent on the actual planted acres and are limited to 65 percent of total farm base acres.

ARC offers shallow loss revenue protection at either the county level or at an individual farm level across all farms enrolled in the state, said Diana Miller, executive director of the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Allen County. She also spoke during the meeting.

PLC offers price protection to the farmer and is similar to the old counter-cyclical program, Miller noted. Payments are made on 85 percent of the base of the crop and are made regardless of the planting of the covered commodity.

PLC is also the default plan for producers who don’t pick an option on their own, she said. Those farmers will not receive any payments for 2014.

Covered commodities for ARC or PLC include barley, corn, flaxseed, lentils, oats, peanuts, soybeans and wheat. The timeline for enrolling in either program extends into 2015, Miller said.

Producers should receive letters by mid-summer notifying them of current bases and yields and of their 2008-2012 planting history for the covered commodities.

By late summer, Miller said owners will have the opportunity to update yields and reallocate bases for the purposes of the program. Over the winter, farmers should make final base and yield decisions and by early next year, begin the enrollment process.

"I can see farmers needing to come into the office three times," Miller stated. "They’ll be in if they decide to update their yield or reallocate their base, then to choose a program and finally, to sign their annual contract."

For ARC or PLC, farmers may retain their current base acres or reallocate these acres, she said. Reallocation would be based on a proportion of the crops planted or considered planted during the 2009-12 crop years.

Reallocation would be a one-time decision and the acres cannot increase above the amount of the total base acres in effect Sept. 30, 2013.

Producers don’t need to have crop insurance to participate in FSA programs, she said. For more information, visit www.fsa.usda.gov

8/27/2014