Less than 10% of farms participate in ACRE program

Corn farms had the highest level of participation. Sign-up underway for next year's program.

This was the first year of the ACRE program and approximately 8% of the total number of farms enrolled in the 2009 and Counter-cyclical Program (DCP) and in the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) programs elected to participate in ACRE, representing nearly 13% of the nearly 255 million base acres on about 1.7 million farms.

Of the 22 different crops eligible for enrollment, corn had the highest number of base acres enrolled, followed by wheat and soybeans, and producers mainly planted these three crops. The states with the largest number of base acres enrolled are Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota.

The new ACRE program, established in the 2008 Farm Bill, provides payments when both the state and the farm have incurred a revenue loss according to a complex formula taking into account state yield and a two-year national average price.

In exchange for participating in ACRE, producers agree to forgo the counter-cyclical program, take a 20% reduction in the direct payment and a 30% reduction in marketing assistance loan rates. Once enrolled in ACRE, a farm must be in the program through the 2012 crop year.

"We included ACRE in the 2008 farm bill so that crop producers would have a new farm program option to protect them against shortfalls in crop revenue and I am pleased that there has been strong interest in the program among producers across the country," said Sen.Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry. "Looking ahead, I encourage farmers to carefully examine their farm safety options, including ACRE, and I look forward to reports from those farmers who did sign up for ACRE."

Sign-ups underway

The National Corn Growers Association lobbied hard for the ACRE option during farm bill discussion. Jon Doggett, NCGA vice president of public policy, said he heard many reports of Farm Service Agency employees not having enough details about the ACRE program.

Doggett said NCGA will continue to educate USDA county office staff heading into the sign-ups to better support them and give them the tools they need to help best assist farmers interested in signing up for ACRE.

USDA announced recently that farmers can now sign up for the 2010 DCP and ACRE program.

Direct payments are issued on base acres and yields at rates established by statute and regardless of market prices. For 2010, eligible producers may request to receive 22 percent of their direct payment in advance of normal distribution. USDA will issue advance direct payments beginning Dec. 1.

Counter-cyclical payment rates vary depending on market prices and are only issued when the effective price for a commodity is below its target price.

For the 2010 crop, the two-year price average will be based on the 2008 and 2009 crop years.

Growers will have until June 1 to make their program selection and sign up.

Producers are encouraged to speak to representatives at their local land grant university or USDA Farm Service Agency county office to get more information on the benefits of electing ACRE for the remainder of the 2008 Farm Bill.

Tables showing the number of farms and base acres enrolled for each commodity by state can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/dcp.

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