New farm program offers challenges

FULL HOUSE—Over 160 area producers, land owners and lenders attended last Friday’s farm bill program hosted by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the Levelland Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee. Dr. Joe Outlaw, Texas AgriLife Extension specialist and a professor, presented a program on how to use a new web-based farm bill aid site. Producers were attentive because the site allows them to input their person land and crop history and consider farm bill options as anaylized and pesent

Over 160 producers, land owners and lenders turned out to learn more about the new farm bill.
   
The program, hosted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Levelland Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Committee turned into a nuts and bolts demonstration on how to use the Farm Bill Decision Aid Tool website to decide how to maximize parts of the new farm bill.
   
Dr. Joe Outlaw, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Farm Policy
Specialist who was actively involved in the development of this bill, stressed repeatedly that producers should not hurry to sign up but should study all of their options before making decisions.
   
He stressed that the only benefit cotton farmers will realize from this farm bill is subsidized crop insurance options.
   
He also cautioned farmers and land owners that when land is committed to a particular course of action, it is committed for five years or as long as this farm bill is in place. If producers are changed, the land stays in the same program.  He expects this farm bill to be in place for more than five years.
   
Outlaw explained that cotton is not one of the 21 crops now classified as covered commodities. Those covered commodities include wheat, oats, barley, corn, grain sorghum, long grain rice, medium grain rice, pulse crops, soybeans, peanuts and other oilseeds, including sunflower seed, rapeseed, canola, safflower, flaxseed, mustard seed, crambe, sesame seed or any oilseed designated by the secretary of agriculture. Pulse crops include dry peas, lentils, small chickpeas and large chickpeas.
   
Outlaw said all of the decisions required in the farm bill add to the producer’s ability to tailor the bill to fit their operations, not just add to complication.
   
There is plenty of time to gather needed information, analyze options and make sign-up decisions. There is no reason to panic, he stated, offering to help farmers make those decisions if they will gather all the information needed.
   
Producers must gather five years of production history and five years of insurance history before inputting those figures into the website, which has been programmed to provide every possible sign-up option.
   
Outlaw said there are two kinds of producers: those who want to maximize their government payments and those who want to manage risk. “It is one thing to use point estimates to show how programs work; it is quite another for evaluating alternatives under risk,” he stated.
   
He says the new farm program provides producers with the rare opportunity of being able to make base re-allocations. He said producers should have already received copies of their crop histories from the Farm Service Agency (FSA). If they have not received them, they need to request those histories immediately since they will be critical in the decision making process.

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