Challenges Could Keep Programs from Quick Implementation

USDA says challenges lay ahead of permanent disaster aid and ACRE.

Two of the major sections of the 2008 Farm Bill are the permanent disaster aid program and the optional Average Crop Revenue Election. During a press conference earlier this week on implementing direct and counter-cyclical programs under the new farm bill, Ag Secretary Ed Schafer and Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner said those programs will likely be implemented later rather than sooner.

"The permanent disaster program is going to be longer because we specifically do not have any expedited authority in the new farm bill," Schafer said. "Some of the programs do give us an opportunity to work faster. This one specifically does not. I doubt that we will see that final rule period before we leave the administration here in January."

Schafer said that it is unlikely that rules for the ACRE program will be complete in time for this fall's winter wheat crop. Conner said there is a lot to work through before it will be ready.

"We're working closely with Congress to obtain some additional implementation resources here for Farm Service Agency," Conner said. "Those additional resources, both for personnel as well as for IT equipment will be necessary in order for us to have any kind of timely implementation of the ACRE program. Our advisors tell us that the data that is necessary to implement ACRE simply cannot be put upon the current computer system that is housed in the Farm Service Agency, and there will need to be changes in that system before we can implement ACRE fully."

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