The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (USDA FSA) has begun processing payments for farmers who signed up for Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) under the new farm bill. 

Nearly one-half of the 1.7 million farmers who signed up for one of the safety net programs will receive safety net payments for their 2014 crop  year.

Unlike the old direct payments program, the 2014 Farm Bill authorized a new safety net that protects producers only when market forces or adverse weather cause unexpected drops in crop prices or revenues, according to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. 

“For example, the corn price for 2014 is 30 percent below the historical benchmark price used by the ARC-County program, and revenues of the farms participating in the ARC-County program are down by about $20 billion from the benchmark during the same period,” Vilsack said. “The nearly $4 billion provided today by the ARC and PLC safety-net programs will give assistance to producers where revenues dropped below normal.”

The ARC/PLC programs primarily allow producers to continue to produce for the market by making payments on a percentage of historical base production, limiting the impact on production decisions.

Nationwide, 96 percent of soybean farms, 91 percent of corn farms and 66 percent of wheat farms elected the ARC-County coverage option. 

Ninety-nine percent of long grain rice and peanut farms, and 94 percent of medium grain rice farms elected the PLC option. 

Overall, 76 percent of participating farm acres are protected by ARC-County, 23 percent by PLC, and 1 percent by ARC-Individual. 

For data about other crops, as well as state-by-state program election results, final PLC price and payment data, and other program information including frequently asked questions, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.

Crops receiving assistance include barley, corn, grain sorghum, lentils, oats, peanuts, dry peas, soybeans and wheat. 

In the upcoming months, disbursements will be made for other crops after marketing year average prices are published by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. 

Any disbursements to participants in ARC-County or PLC for long and medium grain rice (except for temperate Japonica rice) will occur in November, for remaining oilseeds and also chickpeas in December, and temperate Japonica rice in early February 2016. 

ARC-individual payments will begin in November. 

Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity.

The Budget Control Act of 2011, passed by Congress, (also called sequestration) requires USDA to reduce payments by 6.8 percent. For more information, producers are encouraged to visit their local Farm Service Agency office. 

To find a local Farm Service Agency office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.