ACRE Sign-up By Farmers Is Increasing As Deadline Looms

Enrollment deadline is Friday August 14 at 4:30 p.m. at county FSA offices.

Enrollment in USDA's new Average Crop Revenue Election or ACRE program has increased in recent weeks, as corn and soybean prices have declined. And county Farm Service Agency offices are busy this week as the deadline for farmers to enroll in ACRE is the end of the business day on Friday August 14.


"Our county FSA offices have done a wonderful job of explaining this program to farmers and answering their questions," says Kevin McClure, state program specialist for USDA's Farm Service Agency in Iowa.


He adds, "Iowa State University Extension farm management specialists have also helped us greatly in the educational effort about this new ACRE program. Farmers are now making their final decisions to go ahead and enroll. We're looking at about 5.5% of the farms enrolled in ACRE here in Iowa for 2009. That means 5.5% of the farms that have normally enrolled in the traditional USDA farm program have either initiated enrollment into ACRE or we have a completed ACRE election form on file. We have definitely gone up in enrollment numbers in the past 3 to 4 weeks."


USDA officials say deadline won't be extended


At 5.5%, that's basically 1 in 20 farms enrolled in ACRE. The total number of eligible farms in Iowa is around 154,000 so a little less than 10,000 farms have signed up. For those farms who have already signed up for ACRE, they will give up 20% of their DCP payment, and they'll get a 30% reduction in the marketing loan rate if they use that program. Also, the farm, once enrolled in ACRE, is in the program through the 2012 crop year. But the farm will get an ACRE payment if one is made, depending on yields and market prices for the crop.


For those farmers who haven't signed up yet, the cutoff is 4:30 p.m. on Friday August 14. There will be no extension of that signup deadline, say USDA officials. "We've been informed that there will be no extension of this sign up period," says McClure. "FSA already extended it once. The regular deadline was June 1 but it was extended to August 14. I know there have been some rumors of an extension beyond August 14. But I would not look for that to happen."


You need to get into your county FSA office now


So, if you want to get enrolled in ACRE—both to elect and enroll—remember it takes two contracts with FSA to do that this first year—you need to do it before Friday August 14 at 4:30 p.m. "You need to get into your county FSA office before the close of business a the end of the day on Friday," says McClure.


Suppose some people get to the FSA office between now and 4:30 p.m. Friday but don't get all the forms completed. What option do they have? "The county offices have been given the option that if we get to the actual deadline on Friday, there is a registry available," explains McClure. "But that registry is going to be used very strictly. If we can wait on the producer and they have the necessary signatures, we are going to get that producer enrolled. If we can, we will provide them a contract. But we must have all of the signatures back by 4:30 on Friday."


The register is only to be used if FSA can't physically wait on a producer. FSA has made that very clear. County offices are going to use the registry in that manner. "What we don't want to have happen with producers is that someone comes in and says 'I can't get signatures so put me on the register.' That's not what the register is for," he notes.

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