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Farm bill decision-aid meetings scheduled throughout High Plains

Texas

A new optional farm program, Average Crop Revenue Election, may present producers with more questions than answers, Texas AgriLife Extension Service specialists say.

AgriLife Extension is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency to hold meetings across the region to explain the new program added by the 2008 farm bill, said DeDe Jones, AgriLife Extension risk management specialist in Amarillo.

ACRE, as the program will be known, is an alternative revenue-based safety net to the price-based safety net provided by counter-cyclical payments beginning with the 2009 crop year, Jones said.

Careful consideration needs to be given before making a decision, she explained. A decision to elect ACRE may be made in any of the crop years 2009-2012, but the ACRE election is irrevocable once a farm number is signed into the program.

That is why AgriLife Extension and the Farm Service Agency are holding the meetings, said Patrick Warminski, AgriLife Extension risk management specialist.

Producers who choose to sign up for the ACRE program need to understand they will be giving up all of their counter-cyclical payment, as well as 20 percent of their direct payment, and a 30 percent reduction in their marketing loan rate, Warminski said.

ACRE payments will be made only when two conditions are met, he said. The first condition is met when the Actual State Revenue (price x yield) falls below the State ACRE Guarantee. The second is met when the Actual Farm Revenue falls below the Farm ACRE Guarantee.

The Texas A&M Agricultural and Food Policy Center has developed an online software decision-aid program that will allow producers to enter all the necessary data to compare the possible benefits of ACRE with the possible costs of signing into the program.

At the meetings, AgriLife Extension personnel will discuss the ACRE program, demonstrating the online decision-aid software tool and the data necessary to run the program.

The online program will enable a producer to enter his own data by the Farm Service Agency farm number, along with planting and price expectations. With the data entered, the program will calculate the expected benefits of ACRE compared with what the producer has to give up to get those benefits, Warminski said.

Each producer should leave the meeting knowing how to access the program online and understand what data is needed and how to interpret the results.

There are many factors that determine whether the ACRE program will be beneficial to area producers and using the online software will help in the understanding of this complicated decision, he said.

Jones said producers should check with the AgriLife Extension office in counties where programs have not been scheduled to determine if there will be one at a later date. The following is a list of meetings scheduled at this time:

--March 31: 9 a.m., Ochiltree County, Expo Center in Perryton;

--March 31:1 p.m., Lipscomb County, Lipscomb Schoolhouse in Lipscomb;

--April 1: 1 p.m., Potter County, Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Amarillo.



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