Farmers brave weather to hear Farm Bill options

Farm Forum

Despite blizzard-like conditions over much of northeast South Dakota on Jan. 8, close to 150 farmers packed the Ramada Aberdeen Hotel and Conference Center to learn about choices they have related to the 2014 Farm Bill.

As part of a series of regional meetings put on by the South Dakota Farm Service Agency and South Dakota State University Extension, onlookers packed the hotel’s convention area to hear about “farm bill choices and decision tools.”

Some of the biggest changes pertaining to the Farm Bill legislation, which goes into effect this year and runs through 2018, were presented to producers by FSA chief program specialist Paul Hanson. They included the choice of which new safety net program to sign up for:

• Agricultural Risk Coverage – Individual

• Agricultural Risk Coverage – County

• Price Loss Coverage.

Under the Farm Bill, both the ARC and PLC options pay out according to base acres (crop-specific acreage), and producers have until Feb. 27 to visit their local FSA office and update yield history and/or reallocate base acres.

“These options, the ARC and the Price Loss Coverage options in the Farm Bill, actually compliment what you currently have with crop insurance,” said Hanson to the overflow crowd. “The ARC is actually going to provide a shallow loss coverage, it’s a risk program. The price loss coverage option actually provides you with price protection. There will be some decisions to make with this process, and we’re running into some short timeframes to get this done.”

Producers have until March 31 to make a one-time election between the ARC and PLC programs for a period that will run through the 2018 crop year. In April, producers will begin signing contracts for the 2014 and 2015 crop years with payments then issued in October for the 2014 crop year, if needed.

Attending the meeting with her husband, Darian, Andrea Kilker said it’s been a challenge to keep up with what options are available to producers with regard to the Farm Bill.

“It’s a lot to know and keep track of,” said Andrea Kilker, who farms with her husband in Marshall County. “It takes a lot of time. I think the key is just to go on the FSA website and plug in your information and use the tools that they have. Also, you have to talk to your local agent to figure out what the best option is.”

Julie Burgod of Crop Management Services in Aberdeen said she thought the meeting, one of more than a dozen that were scheduled around the state, was informative.

“I think they did a nice job today of covering everything and educating the producers,” Burgod said. “The whole thing is that the devil is in the details, and the details are in the data. You need to compile your data and get your bases updated and your yields and, from there, make the decision to go with ARC or PLC, whichever is best for your farm.”

In addition to the main options available, producers also have to take into consideration different factors like how many farms they own and if they offer or use cash rent lands, Hanson said.

Brown County farmer Ken Miller said he knew more about his options after sitting through the meeting, adding that he’s leaning toward going with the ARC county revenue insurance option.

“I have three different farm units,” Miller said. “I kind of know what I’m leaning to, but I also need to talk to an agent first.”

At the end of the day, Hanson said, farmers will have to choose whether they want a revenue guarantee or a price guarantee. The 2014 Farm Bill was signed into law Feb. 7.

For more information and a detailed look at producer options, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture website at Then, click on “Farm Bill” on the right margin and scroll down to find “Base Reallocation, Yield Updates, Price Loss Coverage & Agricultural Risk Coverage.”

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Farmers must choose between PLC (price-only protection) and ARC (revenue protection). PLC is similar to the old target price program, while ARC is a “shallow loss” crop revenue coverage program.

• ARC-County: Crop revenue will be estimated using average county yields. Farmers will receive payments if the ARC-County actual crop revenue is less than the ARC-County revenue guarantee.

• ARC-Individual: Farmers will receive payments if the actual revenue from all covered commodities is less than the ARC-Individual guarantee.

Source: AgriBank 2014 Farm Bill fact sheet