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Landowners, Operators Need to Update, Elect and Enroll Land in New Farm Programs

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AMES, Iowa - In early August, USDA's Farm Service Agency will send every landowner and operator a summary of their acreage history.

Farm Management Specialist Steven Johnson with Iowa State University says to make sure it doesn't get thrown away.

Recipients will have a chance to update their base acres or leave them be, and optionally to update yields. It's part of the new farm bill, which did away with direct and counter-cyclical payments, as well as the ACRE program. Instead farmers will now choose between the revenue-based ARC ("ark") program or the Price Loss Coverage program.

The Agricultural Risk Coverage program, or ARC, pays when a yield-and-price formula figures out below a guarantee based on prior production, and ARC can be selected at either the county or the individual farm level.

PLC will pay farmers when a commodity's marketing-year-average price falls below a reference price; on corn it's $3.70 cents per bushel, and on soybeans it's $8.40 per bushel.

The August letter from FSA is just the first of three steps for the new programs, which Johnson says are best thought of as update, election, and enrollment.

The update step is outlined above, and will take place in early August 2014. The election; that is, the decision the landowner will make regarding which program her or she thinks is a good fit for the land, is effective for 5 years and will be decided later this fall. Lastly, in early 2015, the annual enrollment of the farm in the chosen program will take place.

To help demystify this process, ISU will hold a series of meetings across Central Iowa to discuss the FSA materials coming in the mail. The list of meetings is reproduced below.

Monday, July 28 – Oskaloosa

Tuesday, July 29 – Boone

Wednesday, July 30 – Altoona

Thursday, July 31 – Nevada and Grinnell

Friday, Aug. 1 – Knoxville

Monday, Aug. 4 – Adel

Tuesday, Aug. 5 – Newton

Wednesday, Aug. 6 – Indianola