The Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the 2014 Farm Bill, is important legislation. It provides farmland owners and operators the opportunity to make a one-time election of a commodity program for 2014 through 2018. The legislation, signed into law earlier in 2014, also allows the farm operator to enroll annually in the chosen program. Iowa State University Extension farm management specialists are providing several resources and online tools to assist farmers and landowners in this decision-making process. There are several decisions they will have to make.
"Farmers and farmland owners will face some complex and binding decisions this fall and winter as they sign up for key commodity crop programs in the new farm bill," notes Steve Johnson, an ISU Extension farm management specialist in central Iowa. "These programs are really a different breed of cat, compared to the previous USDA crop programs. The new farm programs contain a few things we haven't seen before."
New USDA farm programs offer several alternatives
"While the farm bill of 2014 provides opportunities for farmers to update their farm selections, it is important that farmers consider several factors before making these decisions," says Ann Johanns, an ISU Extension program specialist. Johanns coordinates Ag Decision Maker, an agricultural economics and business website sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
"We have developed several tools, including the Base Acreage Reallocation and Payment Yield Update, to assist farm owners and operators as they determine what is best for their business and family," Johanns says.
Alejandro Plastina, an ISU Extension economist, developed the Base Acreage Reallocation and Payment Yield Update. "Opportunities to update your base acres and payment yields for commodity programs are few and far between," Plastina says. "This opportunity doesn't come along very often. So farmers should seriously consider this opportunity provided by the 2014 Farm Bill."
Farmers should use this simple tool to evaluate options
"The worksheet is a simple tool to evaluate the convenience of having the payment formulas for some commodity programs updated to better reflect current production patterns on a farm-by-farm basis," Plastina explains. He notes that the decision tool includes multiple worksheets to allow information for up to five farms.
The Base Acreage Reallocation and Payment Yield Update worksheet was designed to help Iowa farmland owners with base acreage reallocation decisions for the Agricultural Risk Coverage-County (ARC-CO) program and the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program, and with payment yield update decisions for the PLC program. To access this and other online tools, go to the Ag Decision Maker website.
To further support producers, a series of workshops will be held across Iowa to provide information about the 2014 Farm Bill and the impact it has on producers. The meetings will be held once final regulations are set. A complete schedule will be posted on the AgDM farm bill Web page.