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USDA opens safety net program enrollments

USDA opens safety net program enrollments

Producers have until March 15, 2020 to sign up

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

U.S. farmers can now enroll in one of two federal safety net programs.

Producers have until March 15, 2020 to sign up for either the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2019 crop year.

If a farmer doesn’t register for a program by the deadline, he or she will be automatically enrolled in the program he or she chose under the 2014 Farm Bill. They will also be locked into that program for the 2020 crop year.

The programs cover several crops including corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum and lentils, and support farmers in different ways.

“ARC provides income support payments on historical base acres when actual crop revenue declines below a specified guarantee level,” the USDA says. “PLC program provides income support payments on historical base acres when the price for a covered commodity falls below its effective reference price.”

Some changes to the programs came into effect after President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill in December.

Prior to the 2018 bill, once a farmer selected a program, he or she remained in either the ARC or PLC program for the duration of the Farm Bill.

That’s no longer the case, said DeDe Jones, a risk management specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

“Under the 2018 Farm Bill, farmers are going to have the option to switch programs four out of the five years that the Farm Bill covers,” she told “Program selections will be fixed for the 2019 and 2020 crop years, but after that they will be able to switch programs if they want.”

The payment structure and other elements of the programs are similar those in the 2014 Farm Bill, she added.

Producers can access tools from extension departments to help decide which program best suits their farm operations.

The University of Illinois and Texas A&M each have web-based resources to help farmers calculate payment estimates under both programs.

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