FAQ: What Are the New Provisions of the Farm Bill?

Deck: The 2008 Farm Bill has a lot of changes, which we summarize.

Farmers are asking questions about the new 2008 Farm Bill, as USDA releases farm program rules and details this winter. We are providing answers at our new “Frequently Asked Questions” section on our Website www.WallacesFarmer.com. We’ll also print some of the questions and answers in each issue Wallaces Farmer this winter and spring.

Iowa State University Extension farm management specialists have provided the following answers to Question #1 based on information from USDA as of November 17.

If you have a question you’d like answered regarding the new USDA farm program, please send it to [email protected]. We will pass it on to the ISU Extension specialists or to the program specialists at USDA’s Farm Service Agency office in Des Moines and they will send you the answer.

For more information and analysis of the new Farm Bill, see ISU’s Ag Decision Maker site www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm. For clarification on farm program details contact your local FSA office.

Q) On November 7 USDA announced several amendments to provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill. Please explain them.
A) The changes are a result of President Bush signing a bill October 13 making amendments to the 2008 Farm Bill. These changes involve three provisions:

1) The 10-acre base limit for 2008. Owners and operators of farms with 10 or fewer base acres now have the opportunity to receive payments for the 2008 Direct and Counter-cyclical Payment Program.

As originally enacted under the 2008 Farm Bill, direct and countercyclical payments or DCP could not be made with respect to farms with crop acreage bases of 10 acres or less. The new law signed on October 13 makes that provision not applicable to the 2008 crop year.

Thus, farmers on a farm with 10 acres or less of base could under the new law, enroll their farms until Nov. 26, 2008, in the 2008 DCP program. This extension of the original September 30 deadline only applied to farmers who were previously excluded because of the minimum acreage requirement. USDA began issuing payments to farmers on farms with 10 base acres or less who had already enrolled in the DCP program soon after the President signed the new law.


2) Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE). Under SURE in the 2008 Farm Bill, farmers seeking disaster benefits must generally have obtained crop insurance or coverage under the Non-insured crop disaster Assistance Program (NAP) for all crops on all farms.

Under the new law, farmers with crops that had 2009 crop insurance sales closing dates before Aug. 14, 2008 may pay a fee through Jan. 12, 2009 to participate in SURE. Farmers may make their SURE participation fee payments to their local FSA office at this time.

The SURE program fee is equal to the fee for catastrophic coverage. Payment of the SURE program fee will not make the farmer eligible for insurance coverage.

Farmers also have a new minimum loss threshold for SURE. Under the new law, to qualify for payments, there must be a production loss of at least 10% for at least one crop of economic significance on the farm.

The new law provides that when a second crop is planted after the first crop was prevented from being planted, or if such first crop failed, the second planting will not count toward the SURE program guarantee or total farm revenue. This is true except in areas where double-cropping is a normal practice. For that second crop, farmers aren’t required to purchase crop insurance or a NAP policy.

By provision of the new law, the purchase of insurance or a NAP policy for grazed acreage is no longer a requirement for the SURE program. But such insurance is required as a condition for payment for the livestock feed program, tree assistance program and emergency livestock, honeybee and farm-related fish programs.

The new law amends SURE eligibility so crop insurance or NAP coverage exceeds 10% of the value of the coverage.

3) Application deadline changes for NAP. The amendment also changed the Non-insured crop disaster Assistance Program (NAP) application closing dates for 2009 crops. They are extended to Dec. 1, 2008. This extension for 2009 NAP applies to crops having an application closing date prior to Dec. 1, 2008. The extension was authorized due to late enactment of the 2008 Farm Bill and to accommodate applicants wanting to participate in disaster assistance programs under the 2008 Farm Bill’s Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance for their 2009 crops.

TAGS: USDA Extension
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