U.S.D.A. unveils new risk-management programs

by Max Sosland
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently unveiled new programs designed to help farmers better manage risk, including the announcement of the availability of new tools to help provide farmers the information they need to choose the necessary new safety net program. The new programs come as part of a large reformation of U.S. farm programs.

“The 2014 farm bill represented some of the largest farm policy reforms in decades,” said Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture. “One of the farm bill’s most significant reforms is finally taking effect. Farming is one of the riskiest businesses in the world. These new programs help ensure that risk can be effectively managed so that families don’t lose farms that have been passed down through generations because of events beyond their control. But unlike the old direct payment program, which paid farmers in good years and bad, these new initiatives are based on market forces and include county — and individual — coverage options. These reforms provide a much more rational approach to helping farmers manage risk.”

The new programs, Agriculture Risk Coverage (A.R.C.) and Price Loss Coverage (P.L.C.), are two of the major parts of the commodity farm safety net programs in the 2014 farm bill. Both programs offer farmers protection when substantial drops in crop prices and/or revenue occur due to market forces.

To help farmers choose between A.R.C. and P.L.C., the U.S.D.A. launched a web site that allows farmers to enter information about their business and see projections about what each program will do for them under possible scenarios. They will have until early spring of 2015 to select a program.

“We’re committed to giving farmers as much information as we can so they can make an informed decision between these programs,” Mr. Vilsack said. “These resources will help farm owners and producers boil the information down, understand what their options are, and ultimately make the best decision on which choice is right for them. We are very grateful to our partners for their phenomenal work in developing these new tools within a very short time frame.”

Farm owners may begin visiting local Farm Service Agency offices to update their yield history and/or reallocate base acres on Sept. 29, the first step before choosing between A.R.C. and P.L.C.
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