*Special thanks to Randy Pryor, Extension Educator Emeritus for reviewing this information.
You will need your FSA156EZ form which can be obtained from your local FSA Office. It will show you farm numbers, base acres, PLC yields for each of your farms. For counties that had split irrigated and non-irrigated yields in the 2014 Farm Bill, there will be a Historical Irrigated Percentage (HIP) listed on your 156EZ as well. For counties that had combined irrigated and non-irrigated yields, there will be no HIP (as shown on this form). A HIP would not take into account 2013-2017 production, thus, if you added irrigated acres during that time, you would need to consider that in your HIP percentage. You will need to add a HIP for the Texas A&M Farm Bill Decision Aid. If one isn’t listed on your FSA156EZ or if your HIP has changed the past 5 years, use your best estimate.
The Texas A&M Farm Bill Decision Aid can be found at: www.afpc.tamu.edu/tools/farm/farmbill/2018. You will need to first login using your email and password (If you used the tool for the 2014 Farm Bill decision, it will take the same email and password. I have them for growers I helped with the 2014 Farm Bill). Otherwise, if you can’t remember it, you can request help from the developers (Phone: 979-845-5913 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Some have said it takes a long time to receive a response). If you’ve never used it, register with an email and password. If you forgot your password and didn’t receive a response, perhaps consider signing up with a new email address. Just be sure to keep the email and password with your farm bill info. for future decision aid tools!
I haven’t found any data that was entered in 2014 to be in this 2018 decision aid thus far. Thus, you will need to click on “new farm” and you will see the above screen appear. Enter your FSA Farm Number, State, County, and one crop for that farm number. Then click ‘save’.
You will then see this screen appear. If you have another crop with base acres on the same farm number, click on “add another crop” and repeat as many times as necessary until all crops with base acres are added for that farm number.
Once all your crops are entered for the farm number, click on “expected payments tool”.
You can now use your 156EZ to enter base acres, PLC Yield, HIP, and expected prices. For simplicity, you can anticipate PLC yield to be same in 2020 as 2019. USDA projects prices in the right-hand column. I would recommend to run the simulation using their prices first (click on “use these”). You can always go back and play with prices. Then click on “recalculate” button. Note: The “advanced settings” can be used to hone in on county yields as we get closer to February and more accurately predict 2019 payments.
The program will show possible payments based on 500 simulations of anticipated outcomes from the data you entered. Be patient and wait for the numbers to appear. It will give you mean potential payments on this view.
In order to better understand payment potential, click on the dollar amounts. For example, I clicked on 2019 PLC $558 and you can see additional information appears. There’s no really good explanation of this information in the tool, so here’s how to better understand it. The mean is the true average of 500 runs. Each percentile shows the maximum potential payment. In this example, there’s a 75% chance of a payment $958 or less and 90% chance of a payment of $2002 or less.
You can then go back to ‘home’ and repeat the steps clicking on “expected payment tool” in order to enter data for other crops under the same farm number. (Note: always be sure to check the crop on the upper part of the screen as for some reason, it seems to default to soybean).
This is showing the output for corn in this simulation with a mean PLC payment of $1744. With current prices, we’re just in a different situation compared to where we were making decisions for the previous farm bill.
You can then repeat these steps for each farm number to get an idea of potential payments for all crops under each farm number. This is a tool to help with your decisions with the best information possible at this time. Hopefully this is helpful for you and please share any comments/questions below.
Additional Farm Bill Info: