Implementation of 2014 Farm Bill allows farmers time for choices
With the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill well into the 2014 crop year for winter wheat and the planning period for other row crops and with the significant changes Congress made to commodity policy—the elimination of Direct Payments, the need for farmers to choose between Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC), and the addition of the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) to the insurance program—the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) was faced with a compressed time period in which to write all of the appropriate guidelines and regulations if farmers were to have to make their choices between PLC and ARC this spring.
After analyzing the new legislation, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told over 7,000 farmers at the annual Commodity Classic, the USDA decided to stage the rollout of the 2014 Farm Bill. Programs based on activities covered by existing regulations will be implemented immediately. New programs like PLC, ARC, and SCO will be preceded by a period of analysis and education with the appropriate rules to be issued in time for farmers to make their choice of commodity programs.
As Vilsack said, “Let me start first with the opportunity to ensure you that payments due will be paid. As you all know, for those of you who also have livestock operations, we saw the need to send a clear message to our livestock operators that we were with them as they went through two and a half difficult years of facing disaster without assistance because our assistance programs had expired under the previous farm bill.
“Well, they were restored by this farm bill and we are committed at USDA to make sure that those who suffered losses due to disasters will be able and empowered by April 15th to make application for those losses. And we will work very hard shortly thereafter to make sure the resources are paid. We want to make sure that we keep as many operators in business as possible.”
He went on to say that with restored funding for export promotion programs, the USDA will begin immediately to implement them, targeting in particular biofuels. In addition, “we will this spring and early summer implement our Market Assistance Loan Programs, our MILC, dairy program, crop insurance, noninsured crop assistance, the sugar program, the common definition of programs that already exist for which there is an explanation of assistance and help sometime during 2014.”
Other programs to be implemented in the near future include: the Market Assistance Loan Program, farm credit program for beginning farmers, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Management Assistance Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Wetland Reserve Easement program, the Ag Land Easement program, and a cost share program for organic producers.
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