ARC versus PLC decision required soon

As many readers of this blog are aware, there are looming deadlines for the ARC and PLC programs.  Landowners must decide whether to update their program payment yields and whether to reallocate their program base acreage by February 27, 2015.  Additionally, producers must decide between ARC and PLC coverage by March 31, 2015.

The latest issue of Cornhusker Economics discusses the above decisions from an economic standpoint that will likely be very helpful to Nebraska landowners and producers.  The article is well worth the read; below, I highlight some interesting bits of information but I cannot stress enough — read the entire article as it is worth your time.

First, yield updates.  Landowners can choose between keeping their current counter-cyclical payment yields or updating their payment yields based upon actual average yields per planted acre from 2008 to 2012.  Producers can choose between keeping their current payment yield or updating their payment yield on a crop-by-crop, farm-by-farm basis.

Next base acreage updates.  This is, as the article notes, an all-or-nothing decision.  The crux of the decision for landowners is, on a farm-by-farm basis, whether to keep current program base acreage or reallocating according to the average mix of planted and prevented-planted acres of program commodities from 2009 to 2012.

We then turn to the big decision: ARC versus PLC.  Note that it is the producer, not the landowner, who makes the ARC or PLC decision.  The decision is a one-time decision that is binding for the 2014 to 2018 crops years.  If no decision is made, the default is PLC coverage that cannot be changed at a later date.

The remainder of the article discusses the economic decision-making behind the choice of ARC and PLC.  The decision between ARC and PLC is dependent upon the program crops grown in your operation, projected prices for commodity crops, and your comfort with the possible outcomes.

Again, check out the article.  It provides a bevy of charts and graphs to explain the decision-making that producers and landowners must undertake if they wish to update yields and base acres, as well as the decision by producers between ARC and PLC.  And remember, the deadlines are looming so take the time to analyze the best path forward for you!


2014 Organic Farmers Survey

The National Agricultural Statistics Service recently mailed the 2014 Organic Survey to organic farmers across the country.  The survey focuses exclusively on issues, trends, and concerns for organic farmers.

The survey is a follow-up to the 2012 Census of Agriculture.  It is also a follow-up to the previous Organic Survey, completed in 2008.

The survey will provide highly important trend data on growth, trends, challenges, and opportunities for organic farmers.  By looking at the new data as compared to the 2008 data, organic farmers, and those who have an interest (in any manner) in organic farming, will have more information at their fingertips about where organic farming is heading, the growing market, and emerging challenges and opportunities.

If you’ve already received your survey, you may complete it online.

If you are an organic producer, or transitioning to organic production, please take the time to complete the survey.  In this case, more information allows for better production, marketing, and risk management for all organic producers!


Conservation Stewardship Program Sign-Ups Ongoing

If you are interested in the Conservation Stewardship Program for 2015, you have until February 27, 2015 to submit your initial application to your local NRCS office.  If you submit your application after February 27, 2015, your application will be considered in 2016.

What is the Conservation Stewardship Program?  It is a working lands program that rewards farmers and ranchers for conservation and environmental benefits they produce.  NRCS has a self-screening checklist available to help you determine if the program is suitable for your operation.

CSP is a competitive program that aims to achieve environmental benefits by scoring and then financially rewarding CSP applicants with the highest conservation performance outcomes, based on current and planned future conservation activities. First you apply to see if you are eligible, then NRCS scores your current performance and future plans. If you already meet acceptable conservation levels, then you compete in a ranking process that determines who will receive contracts. Contracts are awarded to those offering the highest level of environmental benefits, with NRCS working down through the list of eligible applicants until acreage allocated to the particular state for that particular year runs out. At the national level in most years approximately twice as many farmers apply as get into the program in a given year, though there is some variation by state to that two to one ratio.

Signing up is simple.  Head over to your local NRCS office and submit the initial application, which is a simple form.

Keep in mind that if you are applying as an entity (that is, a business), you must have a DUNS number  (click here on information on how to obtain a DUNS number).  Additionally, the entity will need to register with the System for Award Management.  If you are applying as an individual and use your social security number as your Employer Identification Number (EIN), you do not need a DUNS number or register with SAM.

At this time, NRCS has not published updated information for the fiscal year 2015 sign-up, such as which enhancements are available to choose among or corresponding environmental benefit score.  But don’t let that stop you from contacting your local NRCS office if you are interested.