Category Archives: Farm Bill

JenREES 12-8-19

Farm Bill: A special thank you to Leann Nelson and her staff from the York/Hamilton

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County Farm Service Agency (FSA) for their help in Friday’s Farm Bill meeting in York! We had 130 pre-registered with at least double that actually attending. Greatly appreciate their help keeping coffee going and the help with set up and tear down! Farm bill decisions are complicated. For this column, I will provide a little perspective and also some first steps for consideration. In future columns, I will walk through options for decision making using the Texas A&M tool and other calculations.

Perspective: We need to keep in mind the current decision is for the 2019-2020 signup only…not the life of the farm bill. The decisions for the 2014 farm bill were extra daunting when we had to speculate what would happen with prices for the duration of the farm bill in addition to considering base acre reallocations. So, this two-year decision followed by the opportunity to change annually from 2021-2023 may be a blessing and take a little pressure off as you’re not ‘stuck’ with your decision for five years.

First Steps: Currently you need to: make an election for 2019/2020 and enroll for 2019, enroll for 2020, and determine whether or not you will update your yields. Your program election and enrollment for 2019 need to be complete by March 15, 2020; enrollment for 2020 by June 30, 2020; and your PLC yield update deadline is September 30, 2020. With making crop insurance decisions these winter months and having RMA data fresh on your mind, consider looking at yield updates now instead of waiting. My recommendations for first steps:

1-Contact your local FSA Office asking for their yield spreadsheet that shows your yields and base acres for each farm number. The spreadsheet will also show what actual yield is necessary in order to update your PLC yields. Even if you choose ARC-CO for your program election, it’s important to at least look at PLC yields as this gives you the opportunity to increase them in the event you ever choose PLC in the future. Because of the adjustment factors, a substantial yield improvement may be necessary to update PLC yield. So, knowing what yield you actually need in order to update can save you time before going through all your RMA data. Any yield updates will apply only to the 2020 year and beyond (not to 2019).

If you choose to update yields, you will need to use actual yields (designated with ‘A’) on your crop insurance forms (not APH). Sometimes crop insurance units are on the same sheet encompassing several farm numbers-so be aware of that as you will need to separate them out (irrigation practice doesn’t matter). If a crop insurance unit includes multiple FSA numbers, you can pro-rate those bushels to split the unit using acres. You also could go back to yield map data or scale tickets if you prefer. Ultimately, keep records of how you determine your yield updates as you will need them if you are spot-checked anytime before the end of this farm-bill period. The landowner also needs to sign off on the yield update and Power of Attorney (POA) is acceptable. The 2014 and 2018 farm bills specified that PLC yield could be certified from a minimum of 0.01 acres planted 1 year of the farm bill period. Randy Pryor shared that with me and he would recommend planting at least 1 acre. He had a grower with milo base acres who planted a 25 acre milo plot one time during the last farm bill period; it yielded well allowing him to update his milo yield. We don’t know what future farm bill rules will entail yet something to consider for the next 5 years if rules for PLC yield updates end up the same as the previous farm bills.

2-If you have any idea on farm program elections for 2019-2020, make an appointment now with your FSA Office and go ahead and enroll for 2019. They will also work through the enrollment paperwork for 2020 if possible. You can always change your election prior to March 15, 2020! All Farm Bill information can be found at farmbill.unl.edu.

Keeping Stress Levels in Check Webinar: A free webinar will be offered December 17 geared for farm and ranch families. The webinar will take place over the noon hour (12:30 p.m. CST) and can be accessed at go.unl.edu/stresswebinar. This webinar will provide strategies for dealing with the stress of farming or ranching in today’s difficult economic environment.

JenREES 11-3-19

York County Corn Grower Plot Results and Banquet: The results of the York County Corn Growers plot can be found at: https://jenreesources.com/2019/11/03/2019-york-county-corn-grower-plot-results/. Special thanks to Ron and Brad Makovicka for their IMG_20191015_094139dedication and work in hosting! Also appreciate all the seed companies who participate! The York County Corn Grower’s Banquet will be held Tuesday, November 26 at Chances ‘R in York with social at 6:30 p.m. and dinner at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased from any York Co. Corn Grower director or at the York Co. Extension Office.

Fall Nitrogen Application: With November here, a reminder to check soil temperatures before applying anhydrous ammonia to crop fields. Soil microbial activity and the rate of conversion of ammonium to nitrate is very low when the soil temperature is less than 50oF. Thus, apply fertilizer-N (and manure) when the soil temperature at the 4” soil depth is below 50°F and trending cooler. Daily and weekly soil temperatures (taken 4” below the surface of bare soil) can be found at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/soiltemperature.

Extension Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management Specialists Javed Iqbal, Charlie Wortmann, Bijesh Maharjan, and Laila Puntel shared additional considerations for fall Nitrogen application in this week’s CropWatch: Apply anhydrous ammonia rather than other N fertilizers; Limit fall application of N to silt loam, silty clay loam, and finer textured soils; Use nitrification inhibitors to slow the conversion of ammonium to nitrate, especially on sand-dominant soils; Avoid fall application on wet soils; and Consider applying a lower base rate of nitrogen in the fall and plan on applying the rest at planting, or as a side-dress application.

On-Farm Research Protocols are available for anyone interested in fall vs. spring nitrogen management studies, inhibitor studies, or other potential on-farm research studies by contacting your local Extension educator. For growers within the UBBNRD interested in on-farm research studies that have a water quality focus, you may be eligible for additional support through the UBBNRD.  In some instances it may cover district staff and equipment use; in others, it may cover a portion of the costs of lab analysis of soil, plant tissue, or water samples. If you’re a grower interested in this type of study, please contact the UBBNRD or your local Extension Educator to talk through your study idea and for additional information.

Farm Bill Meetings: Joint Nebraska Extension and Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA) producer education meetings are scheduled at 28 locations across the state from late November to mid-December in advance of the coming ARC/PLC enrollment deadlines in early 2020. The meetings are free and open to the public. Advance registration is encouraged for planning purposes for materials and facilities. Attendees can register for any of the meetings conveniently on the web at farmbill.unl.edu or by calling or visiting their county FSA or Extension office. The educational programs will feature information and insights from FSA specialists and Extension experts, as well as other relevant information from local agencies.

Nearest locations for this area of the State include: Nov. 25. Community Center, Red Cloud (1-4 p.m.); Dec. 3 ENREC near Mead (9-Noon); Dec. 4 Ag Park in Columbus (9-Noon); Dec. 5 College Park in Grand Island (1-4 p.m.); Dec. 5. Opera House, Bruning (1:30-4:30 p.m.); Dec. 6 Fairgrounds Cornerstone Building York (9-Noon); Dec. 16. Extension Office Lincoln (9-Noon); Dec. 17 Fairgrounds 4-H Bldg. Beatrice (9-Noon); Dec. 17 Fairgrounds in Kearney (1-4 p.m.).

JenREES 1-27-19

Farm Bill: I need to clarify something I mentioned last week and I apologize for misunderstanding this. I heard the farm bill presentation for the third time this winter and after asking this question, realized I had misunderstood and incorrectly informed you all last week. This is in regards to base acres and which crops were planted the past 10 years. I incorrectly told you that (for example) if you had sorghum base acres and hadn’t planted sorghum the past 10 years, that your payments would be reduced. It is true that this idea was proposed in negotiations (so keep in mind for the future). However, that idea did not pass; the correct statement is if you planted a crop that is not approved for program payments, your base acre payments will be reduced. So, for example, if you planted industrial hemp instead, which currently is not an eligible crop for program payments, your base acre payments would be reduced. So just wanted to correct this on my end.

York County Corn Grower Tour Feb. 5: The York County Corn Grower’s Association is sponsoring a tour on February 5th. We will meet at the York County Extension Office at 6:45 a.m. and plan to leave for Grand Island by 7:00 a.m. Morning tour stops include the Case IH Axial-Flow Combine Plant followed by Hornady which produces bullets, ammunition, and reloading products. Lunch will be held at Kindaiders Brewery in which attendees will also receive a tour. The group will then tour Klute Manufacturing near Bradshaw which produces Warren dump boxes, Circle D and H&H trailers, pickup flatbeds, and vehicle accessories. The final stop will be the York Agricultural Education Program which was recognized as one of the top six programs in the nation by the National Association of Ag Educators. Attendees must wear closed toed shoes and be able to walk without a cane/walker based on the requirements of the places we’re touring. Please RSVP no later than Feb. 4th to the York County Extension Office at (402) 362-5508.

Nebraska Ag Technologies Association Conference: Learn about the latest developments in precision agriculture technologies January 31 at the Nebraska Agricultural Technology Association (NEATA) Conference. The group’s annual meeting and agriculture industry conference will be held at the Kearney Holiday Inn and Conference Center in Kearney. Conference topics will include precision economics, nutrient and water management, data collection, and precision equipment. Featured guest speakers include Brian Arnall, precision nutrient management extension specialist, Oklahoma State University; Jim Smith, executive director, Blueprint Nebraska; and Cathy Anderson, chief specialist, Nebraska State Farm Services Agency Office. Attendees will also be able to choose from 10 breakout offerings. The conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To view the conference program and register, visit https://neata.org/. The fee is $175 when pre-registering and $195 the day of the conference. Students may register for $25.

Managing Ag Land for the 21st Century: This workshop for current and future landowners and tenants will cover current trends in cash rental rates, lease provisions, and crop and grazing land considerations. There will be two meetings in the area. One on Feb. 12 at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva. The other will be held on Feb. 25 at the Butler County Event Center at the Fairgrounds in David City. Both meetings will begin with registration at 9:15 a.m., with the program starting at 9:30 a.m., and ending by 3:00 p.m.  There is no charge for these programs. To attend in Geneva, please RSVP at (402) 759-3712. To attend in David City, please RSVP at (402) 367-7410.

Hamilton County Ag Day will be held Feb. 13 with registration at 9 a.m. and program from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The program will include updates from Nebraska Corn Growers, Farm Service Agency, and Natural Resources Conservation Service. Additional topics include Managing Soil Microbes 101, Stalk and Grain Quality Concerns with Corn, Land Rental Considerations for 2019, Pivot Wheel Track Management, Corn Stalk Grazing Economics, Benefits of Corn Stalk Grazing, and a weather update from Al Dutcher. There is no charge for the program but please RSVP to (402) 694-6174 for lunch count.

Nebraska Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference will be held Feb. 14 at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center (former ARDC) near Mead. The program runs from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. with registration at 8:30 a.m. Topics and presenters include:  “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life,” David R. Montgomery, professor of geomorphology, University of Washington; “Rebuilding and Maintaining Life in the Soil,” Jay Fuhrer, soil health specialist, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bismarck, North Dakota; “How My Farm has Responded to Cover Crops and Crop Rotation,” Ray Ward, founder, Ward Laboratories; “Northeast Nebraska Farmer’s Perspective on Cover Crops,” Jeff Steffen, Crofton farmer; “How I Graze My Cropland Without Owning Livestock,” Scott Heinemann, Winside farmer; and a farmer panel. There is no fee to attend, but individuals must pre-register by 5 p.m. Feb. 8 to ensure meals and resource materials are available. Seating is limited. To register, call 402-624-8030, email cdunbar2@unl.edu or use the form at https://go.unl.edu/tmj5.

JenREES 1-13-19

Thank you to all the committee members, sponsors, exhibitors, presenters, attendees, and media coverage of the York Ag Expo last week! Great to see so many turn out for the educational sessions as well!

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Packed room for chemigation training at York Ag Expo.

Farm Bill: I was extra pleased with the excellent questions and discussion with the afternoon educational sessions at the York Ag Expo. The following are the major changes that Dr. Brad Lubben, Extension Farm Policy Specialist, shared during the Farm Bill imag7264

presentation. Farmers will have the opportunity to make a new election for either ARC-CO or PLC for the years 2019-2020 (a two year decision), after which the decision will be a yearly one (beginning in 2021) until the end of the farm bill period. There’s more changes to the ARC program than PLC. For ARC, the primary source of yield data will most likely be RMA crop insurance data instead of NASS survey data. The 25% factor used to establish ARC-CO coverage by irrigated or non-irrigated practice is no longer in effect. Instead, a farmer can make a request to the FSA committee if not less than 5% of the acreage was irrigated or not less than 5% was non-irrigated during the 2014-2018 crop years. Coverage is now tied to a physical county regardless of administrative county. The plug yield in ARC-CO increased from 70% to 80% of the transitional yield. There will also be a trend yield adjustment similar to the Federal crop insurance trend-adjusted yield endorsement. When Brad showed what this looked like if applied to the previous farm bill, it increased the bu/ac in all the examples he showed. Thus, he speculates it should improve the ARC-CO benchmark. Regarding PLC, producers will have the opportunity to consider updating yields on farms. There’s a specific equation that will be used and because it’s focused more on the 2008-2012 period to help those farms most effected by drought, it may not provide a benefit to all farms. It would still be worth working through the equation just to make sure for your individual farms. The other change to PLC is the equation for the effective reference price. In 2014, several of us in Extension worked individually with you to help you through these decisions using decision support tools. Money was not provided in this farm bill to support the computer tools so we’re still waiting to see if they will be developed. We’re assuming they will be. Yet the decisions this time may be more straightforward with making a decision for the first two years followed by annually vs. the life of the farm bill like what happened in 2014. All resources and information can be found at http://farmbill.unl.edu. Regarding ARC vs. PLC decisions, Brad shared the following points:

  • Under stable, lower price levels, PLC support will kick in before ARC support for downward price movement.
  • Under modestly increasing price levels, ARC and PLC support may quickly disappear.
  • Under substantially higher prices, moving average price in ARC benchmark and moving average price in PLC effective reference price could rachet up support to near equivalent levels.

Survey: Every year in Extension we write annual reports to justify the work we accomplished during the year. Last week I shared a survey link to provide me feedback regarding 2018 efforts. Thank you for those who have responded; I appreciate it!!! The survey truly is anonymous. For those who haven’t responded, I would greatly appreciate your feedback on this short survey at: https://app2.sli.do/event/q2p1sedv/polls. A year ago I changed the way I did my email list and news columns. My hope is that the format is more beneficial for us all in spite of the extra time it takes me each week. I’m genuinely open to and desirous of your feedback. Also, if you’re reading this and would like to be added to my email list, please email me at jrees2@unl.edu and I will add you.

Crop Production Clinics and Nebraska Crop Management Conference: Thank you to all who requested via surveys, emails, or phone calls in 2018 that you wanted to see the Crop Production Clinic back in the area! You were heard and one will be held in York at the Holthus Convention Center on January 17th! You can see the full schedule at http://agronomy.unl.edu/cpc. The Nebraska Crop Management Conference in Kearney on Jan. 28-29 has the same topics as Crop Production Clinics with additional topics and out of state speakers. You can view the registration for that conference at: https://agronomy.unl.edu/NCMC. While I realize many of you attend CPC for specific reasons, there is an opportunity this year to participate in a university research study and be paid for your time. Simanti Banerjee, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics, is studying producer behaviors in response to farm bill programs. The study will take up to two hours. Average earnings from participating in the study are expected to be up to $100, depending on your decisions and those of other participants. All information collected is confidential and your responses are anonymous and will not be connected to your name. You can read more and register to participate in this study at this site: https://agronomy.unl.edu/crop-production-clinic-study-consent. Looking forward to seeing those who attend the upcoming CPC and NCMC!

Simplification and Accuracy in Texas A&M Farm Bill Decision Tool

As I work with producers and landlords, I’ve seen a variety of understanding and preparation for inputting information into the Texas A&M Farm Bill Decision Tool.  Previous blog posts have shared screenshots for inputting information.  What I will do with this blog post is share how to simplify the time spent inputting information while checking for accuracy of the information inputted.  You will only receive as accurate of information as what you input into the tool!

First, your best friend while inputting is the "eraser sheet" from FSA.  It lists CC yields, base acres, reallocated base, but best yet, it lists planted production by year from 2009-2012.  That seems to be the largest hang-up I have with producers and getting information to turn out correctly.  RMA acre data often includes additional acres that were once pasture or CRP that are now in production but not accounted for in your base acres with FSA.  So you have to use FSA production acres in this tool for the information to come out correctly for your farms.

First, your best friend while inputting is the “eraser sheet” from FSA.  It lists CC yields, base acres, reallocated base, but best yet, it lists planted production by year from 2009-2012.  That seems to be the largest hang-up I have with producers and getting information to turn out correctly.  RMA acre data often includes additional acres that were once pasture or CRP that are now in production but not accounted for in your base acres with FSA.  So you have to use FSA production acres in this tool for the information to come out correctly for your farms.  It also is a life-saver for farms that are joined together or split out….takes the headache out of figuring planted acres in those years!  Note:  The above eraser sheet is just an example so you know what one looks like.  It is NOT used for inputting or double checking in the next several screen shots.

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On the “edit” page when entering a farm unit, at the top of the page, you don’t need a description, but can add one if you wish. To simplify and save time on the bottom half of the page: ONLY entering CC yield and base acres for the specific crop saves a great deal of time. You don’t need basis, crop insurance, or insurance policy if you ARE NOT using this tool to make a crop insurance decision. You also only need “future acres” if you are interested in looking at crop insurance, or if you are interested in evaluating ARC-IC as an option. Inputting “0” for future acres just provides a summary of ARC-Co vs. PLC payment projections.  Then press “save”.

When entering yields, you need to enter one more date after all your yield data has been entered for the data to save properly.  In this example, I have inputted yield data for 2008-2012.  I then added "2013" and pressed "save yield data".  If you input 2013 yields, be sure to add a "2014" instead.  Not doing this step will delete your last row of yield information.

When entering yields, you need to enter one more date after all your yield data has been entered for the data to save properly. In this example, I have inputted yield data for 2008-2012. I then added “2013” and pressed “save yield data”. Not doing this step will delete your last row of yield information.  On “planted acres” use production acres from FSA vs. RMA as this provides the correct acres for base reallocation decision and thus, correct potential payments based on those acres.  2008-2012 is necessary to determine updated yield.  2009-2012 acres are needed for determining base reallocation.  The acres for 2008 will not influence or throw off the acres in this tool.

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For crops in which you have old base acres but you have not produced since 2008, you can enter yields by adding a “0” in them as shown here. This does take time, so you can also skip this step as shown in the next screen shot without affecting your analysis.

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UPDATE: If you wish to save additional time, you DON’T have to enter in “0” for yields for old base acre crops you didn’t plant from 2009-2012. Instead, on the home screen, simply hit “save” after entering in old base acres and CC yield for crops you no longer plant and skip entering yields for these crops. The output is the same (Thanks to Randy Pryor, Nebraska Educator in Saline County for this time-saving tip!)

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Once all your crop information is entered for every one of your farms, you need to double check your data. First, Click on the “Yield Update” decision tool. The first screen shows what you entered and gives you a chance to check your information. Double check that your CC yields are entered correctly and that the yields look correct for what was entered. If the information is correct, then click on the “information is correct” button. If it is not, click on “home” and go back to the crop and farm where the information needs to be corrected. Note that if you had a crop that did not have CC yield on your FSA sheet because you also had no old base acres for that crop, on the “Home” screen enter “0” for CC yield and “0” for base acres.  Then the County plug yield is inserted as the CC yield on this screen.

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You will then see the yield updates for all your crops on all your farms that you inputted. You can print this screen for your information. A couple things to look for on this sheet. Whenever the 2013 CC Yield is higher than PLC Yield, it’s probably wise not to change that yield. Also a note for corn in particular, I like to go through all the farms and highlight the farm with the highest PLC corn yield. When having difficulty making a decision between ARC-Co vs. PLC, crops with highest PLC yields will offer the best PLC payments.

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Next it’s time to look at the “base reallocation decision tool”. The first screen is a double check for you. It’s very important that the current base acres and reallocation acres match what was given you by the FSA office. Not inputting production acres based on FSA records (shown in top table) can throw off the potential base reallocation in the lower table. If the current base and potential reallocation base agrees with what was provided from FSA, simply push the “information is correct” button. If it doesn’t match, you will need to go back to the home screen and change the production acres so that the total production matches up to total base acres each year from 2009-2012 in order for the base reallocation to be correct. One more note: If you have split irrigated and non-irrigated acres, make sure to take a % of base acres assigned to the crop. (Ex. This farm has a total of 50 corn base acres. If 50% your acres are irrigated corn and you were in a county with split irrigated/non-irrigated opportunity, then assign 25 base acres to irrigated corn on the home screen and 25 base acres to non-irrigated corn).  Inputting 50 corn base acres for both irrigated corn and non-irrigated corn would give you a total of 100 base acres which is 50 acres too many and will provide incorrect information.

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Next you have an opportunity to select prices. I typically select USDA prices for all crops first. Then hit the “analyze” button. When the following screen appears, I click “download” then print the PDF that appears one-sided. This ensures that information for each farm number does not end up back to back with another farm number if you print two-sided. I then scroll to the bottom of this page, click “change prices” and click all the FAPRI prices, analyze, download, and print one-sided again. It does take some paper, but you’ll see why I recommend this shortly.  It also allows you to keep farms separate if you’re showing results to landlords and/or tenants.

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Once I print both sets of prices, the gals in my office and I staple together each farm number. We write “high” for FAPRI prices and “low” for USDA prices. I then place the High and Low together by farm number and farm by farm, go through the output with the farmers. Ultimately, I’m looking for trends when both the higher and lower prices agree. In this example, we are first looking at the base acre reallocation decision. Blue bubbles mean higher payments with reallocation; orange means higher payments without reallocation. Look at the bottom line for total payments. Notice in this example that for both low and higher prices, not reallocating the base is consistently higher. To help explain this, look at the base acre information below. What is occurring for this particular farm is a loss of grain base from 132 to 78.5 grain base acres. So essentially for this farm, the increase in corn base acres was not enough to off-set the milo payment from old base. The farmer then has to choose if he/she wants to reallocate base to what is currently planted, or retain base acres to protect grain base and obtain the milo payment. The other thing to notice is the decision of ARC-Co or PLC for each crop and how well they match between high and low prices. In this case, if the farmer chooses no reallocation, PLC is most consistent for milo and corn while ARC-Co is most consistent for soybeans. When both high and lower prices agree like this, it helps make decisions easier.  You can always go back and play with the prices more, but you have to be careful with that.  Remember, your decision ultimately is based on what you feel future prices will be for the next five years.

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The final thing I like to do is analyze the output for higher and lower prices crop by crop, especially for farms where Corn switches decisions on the first page from ARC-Co with FAPRI prices to PLC with USDA prices. It comes down to what the producer feels prices will be the next 5 years. I compare the ARC-Co vs. PLC prices for whichever decision the farmer makes regarding base reallocation. In this example, let’s say the farmer decides to not reallocate his/her acres. We then compare ARC-Co vs. PLC for both FAPRI and USDA prices for each crop. Besides the total payment over the length of the farm bill based on these prices, I also like to compare payments year by year with both options and look at probabilities of those payments based on the projected FAPRI and USDA prices. In this situation, PLC provides higher payments in both higher and lower price situations over the life of the farm bill.  ARC-Co provides slightly larger payments the first one or two years depending on price.  One thing to keep in mind: If FAPRI prices are correct, then the PLC payments for years 2015-2018 go to $0 because FAPRI is estimating prices above the $3.70 trigger price for corn. So why does the tool show a PLC payment for FAPRI prices? It is taking into account 500 scenarios at one time that all have a chance of occurring in the future and the probability of payment if prices are at, above, or below the predicted FAPRI price for each year.  Same for USDA prices.  So it’s important to always keep this in mind when analyzing the results.

Hopefully this post was helpful to you in understanding how to simplify your input into this tool, to understand the importance of accuracy, and to understand one way of analyzing data from the Texas A&M Decision tool!  You can view more information by checking out these YouTube videos.

Additional Farm Bill Decision Tool Information

I’ve really enjoyed working with producers and landlords on looking at farm bill decisions for individual operations.  A quick caution again regarding supplemental coverage option (SCO), you can only take price loss coverage (PLC) into account not PLC+SCO if you haven’t plugged the information into the Texas A&M farm bill tool correctly (meaning 10 years of yield data and all production information broken into crop insurance units for each FSA farm number).  You can always discuss SCO with your crop insurance agent but the tool itself won’t provide correct output without inputting numbers correctly.  You can simply remove SCO from the tool information by not selecting a crop insurance option on the first home screen of each farm unit you input into the Texas A&M tool.  I have screen shots with additional information in this blog post.

I’m willing to work individually with those interested in looking at the Texas A&M tool for your decisions.  Please call (402) 762-3644 to set up an appointment.  You will need to bring the following with you:

  1. Your CC yields from FSA (the ones sent in July/August tend to have all your CC yields for all your current base acres). You could also request your FSA 156-EZ form for this information.  Or better yet, ask for FSA’s eraser sheet for each of your farms.
  2. Your base acres and potential base reallocation information FSA sent you.
  3. Yield production history from 2008-2012 by crop.  If you were in the ACRE program during the last farm bill, please also ask them for the screenshot of all your yield production history.  Since you had to prove yields with that program, your production information is already in their system.  If you weren’t in ACRE, you will need to fill out the price loss coverage form FSA sent you.  You can obtain this information from your crop insurance records or from scale tickets by farm if you don’t have crop insurance information.  You will not have to prove yields at the time of signing up, but please keep your records as you will need to prove how you obtained this information in the event you are spot-checked.  Here’s more information regarding yields.

When determining your yield history from 2008-2012, for combined counties, FSA is looking for a total combined production (not a weighted production based on irrigated vs. dryland acres).  If you have crop insurance information, add up the total production in bushels for irrigated and dryland by crop (ex. Corn) for each FSA farm number and total the acres of each production entry.  Then divide production by total acres to determine your yield.  It’s important you use RMA production data, not APH yield as the APH yield may incorporate other modifications to actual production.

For split counties, I’ve been recommending to keep dryland and irrigated production split on the top part of the FSA PLC form and then the combined yields at the bottom part of the form.  This allows you to have the split yield information for the Farm Bill Decision Tool and also the combined yield data that FSA needs.  Add up dryland production by FSA farm number and irrigated production by that farm number.  When inputting data from a split county into the Texas A&M decision aid, you will need to allocate base acres on a percentage of the irrigated vs. dryland acres.  For example, if 50% of the land in one FSA farm number is irrigated and you have 200 acres, then 100 acres would be used for the base acres in the decision tool for irrigated yields and 100 acres would be used in the tool for dryland yields.  Your CC yield will remain the same for both irrigated and dryland by crop.

Inputting Data into Texas A&M Farm Bill Decision Tool

Last week was enjoyable working with farmers on Farm Bill decisions.  I’ve decided to work with producers on an individual basis.  If you are interested in help looking at your potential options using the Texas A&M model or would like another set of eyes to make sure the data was inputted correctly, please call (402) 762-3644 and Deanna or Holli will get you scheduled for a time.

One caveat is that this model is only as good as the data you input into it and your decisions

Example of FSA "eraser sheet" courtesy of Randy Pryor, Nebraska Extension in Saline County.

Example of FSA “eraser sheet” courtesy of Randy Pryor, Nebraska Extension in Saline County.

are based on where you feel potential prices the next five years will be.  You need your CC yields and base acres from FSA as well as production history since at least 2008 (2003 if you wish to run crop insurance tool).  Requesting a copy of the FSA “eraser sheet” is a great tool to check on planted and crop production planted acres and to see if reallocated base jives with the computer program.  The Texas A&M simulation at https://usda.afpc.tamu.edu/ isn’t difficult to run, but it can be confusing as to what number to input where.  Begin by registering at the site by providing an email address and password.  Then login and you will see the following screen.

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It is important for you to decide what you want the tool to analyze for you. It can analyze: yield update, base reallocation, ARC vs. PLC, and crop insurance (shown in right-hand column in screen-shot, or can also be selected from “Tools” in top drop-down menu). If you want to analyze crop insurance decisions, EACH crop insurance tract needs to be entered as a “new farm unit” under each FSA farm number. It takes a lot of time and it can be done, but that’s the only way to use this tool to also look at crop insurance including supplemental coverage option (SCO).

If you do not want to look at crop insurance decision but wish to consider the first three decisions, then for counties such as Clay County with COMBINED irrigated and dryland county yields, completing the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Yield Worksheet (CCC-859) from FSA with your combined irrigated and dryland yields for each FSA number will greatly aid you in inputting the data.  For counties with any splits in irrigated and dryland yields, I recommend placing irrigated and dryland production separately on the top of the PLC Yield worksheet, and then combining production by crop towards the bottom of the worksheet.  Regardless of if your county has the opportunity for a split irrigated/non-irrigated payment, all CC yields in Nebraska are combined by crop (regardless of irrigation or not), so FSA will want a combined yield by crop on their form.

EACH crop needs to be entered as a separate farm unit. I have created a fake account to walk you through a simulation.

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Some are having a difficult time finding “rate yield” on their crop insurance forms. It is not critical if you are not using the crop insurance tool and the same Approved APH yield can be inputted for the rate yield as well. If using the crop insurance tool, the correct rate yield from crop insurance must be used.  UPDATE:  If you ARE NOT interested in analyzing crop insurance information, “0”  can be inserted for basis price, rate and APH yields, and select “none” for crop insurance.  If you are also not interested in analyzing ARC-IC, then “future acres” can also be entered as “0”.

When entering yields, you need to enter one more date after all your yield data has been entered for the data to save properly.  In this example, I have inputted yield data for 2008-2012.  I then added "2013" and pressed "save yield data".  If you input 2013 yields, be sure to add a "2014" instead.  Not doing this step will delete your last row of yield information.

When entering yields, you need to enter one more date after all your yield data has been entered for the data to save properly. In this example, I have inputted yield data for 2008-2012. I then added “2013” and pressed “save yield data”. If you input 2013 yields, be sure to add a “2014” instead. Not doing this step will delete your last row of yield information.

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Notice that each crop needs to be added as a separate farm unit. If using the crop insurance tool, each crop insurance tract under each FSA farm number needs to be added as a separate farm unit. Be sure to split out base acres among the tracts and be sure that the total base acres add up to the total base acres from FSA.

For entering separate crop insurance tracts, the CC yield should remain the same for all dryland tracts under one FSA farm number (same for irrigated).  However, you will have to split out base acres amongst the tracts and you need to make sure the acres inputted add up; please double check this!

For your yield update and base reallocation information:  For some of you, the base reallocation acres in the tool have been slightly different than what you received from FSA office.  That may be because risk management agency (RMA) acres were used and were different than the production acres FSA had on file.  You need to use the FSA acres for planted acres when using this model if they differ from the RMA ones.

When running this model, on many farms PLC + SCO looks favorable for some crops.  A word of caution, you can consider PLC but should not consider SCO in your decision if you have not broken everything out into crop insurance tracts and included 10 years of production history into the tool.  So in the decision of reallocating base acres or not, in the final summary section that gives you total numbers, anytime PLC+SCO is shown for a particular crop and you have not included the proper crop insurance info, you need to re-calculate the final total by hand using PLC ONLY from the table above that area.  It normally doesn’t change the outcome that the decision tool provides, but it can.  I’m not saying that SCO shouldn’t be considered, what I’m saying is that the numbers provided in the tool are not accurate if you have not inputted the data in the way needed to look at crop insurance decisions.

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In this example, you notice three tabs: Base reallocation, risk chart, and per crop analysis. The green tab shows what you are looking at-in this case base reallocation. Notice there are two charts: The top one shows ARC-Co, PLC, and PLC+SCO. Blue circles indicate best option with reallocating base acres while orange circles indicate best option without reallocating base acres. The second table gives you your totals. Notice in this table and the one above that PLC+SCO are shown as the best options for corn. However, in the total, because we did not separate the crop insurance tracts in this FSA farm number and because I didn’t include 10 years of yield data, I need to recalculate the totals by looking at the top table for the next highest prices under ARC and PLC. So for this example, to refigure best reallocation of base payment total, I would take the $8093 listed in PLC, reallocation for corn since it is higher than ARC and add it to the $4612 for soybean payment to get: $12,705 for base reallocation. For no base reallocation, I would add $10,791 from PLC since higher than ARC in this example and add it to $3075 to get a total of $13,866 for no base reallocation. Most of the time, the outcome stays the same, but there are a couple instances it has changed, so wanted to make you aware of the importance of this.

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Or to get around having to hand-calculate removing SCO from the total decisions, Randy Pryor and Paul Hay, Nebraska Extension in Saline and Gage Counties respectively, discovered that if you select “no crop insurance policy” on the edit screen for each farm unit, that it automatically takes out adding SCO into your final calculated options as you can see from the next screenshot!

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When not adding crop insurance tract info and 10 year yield history information to be able to analyze Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO), removing crop insurance from the beginning edit screens allows you to analyze base reallocation and ARC-Co vs. PLC program options without having to recalculate and remove SCO. It won’t give you a higher SCO payment number when adding information in this way.

Some of you have questioned why PLC even lists a payment when prices are inputted higher than the benchmark price of $3.70 for corn, etc.  The Texas A&M tool is giving you essentially a bell curve of 500 random outputs with the distribution of that curve around the particular price you input for each crop.  So with every given price you input, there’s a certain probability that the price will be at, above, or below that particular price.  That’s essentially what the red, green, yellow bars are showing you on the analysis.  So you’re assessing where you feel prices will be, what decision will allow you to best sleep at night, the potential of spreading out risk with several farm numbers by choosing different options, etc.  You can also view the YouTube videos from Texas A&M with more information!

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Farm Bill Computer Training

A great opportunity to determine the best decisions for your farm!!! Please click on the photo to enlarge.
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