The National Corn Growers Association applauds announcement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding $6 million to universities and cooperative state extension services to develop online decision tools and other materials and train experts to educate producers about several key farm bill programs. These tools, which NCGA advocated for along with other commodity organizations, will help farmers and ranchers determine which programs established by the 2014 farm bill will be best suited for their operations.
"We are pleased with USDA's selection of universities to develop these important tools, and we feel they took our growers' concerns into consideration in making this important decision," said NCGA President Martin Barbre. "The solid representation of land-grant universities with outstanding reputations in our community will ensure the web-based tools are relevant to farmers. The choice of commodity and crop insurance programs is an important one for farmers, and we are confident that the institutions chosen will inspire trust from the audiences which they will serve."
The Secretary announced that University of Illinois (lead for the National Coalition for Producer Education), the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri and the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M (co-leads for the National Association of Agricultural and Food Policy) will receive a total of $3 million to develop the new online tools and train state-based extension agents who can in turn help educate farmers.
"Helping farmers and ranchers understand new farm bill programs and what the programs mean for their families is one of USDA's top priorities," said Vilsack in his comments. "With the resources we're providing, university experts will help ensure farmers and ranchers are highly educated as they make critical decisions about new programs that impact their livelihoods. The new tools that will be developed will empower farmers and ranchers to select the plan that best fits their unique needs."
To view the original letter sent by NCGA to the Secretary on this issue, click here.
The resources being developed will help farmers and ranchers make an educated choice between the new Agriculture Risk Coverage program and the Price Loss Coverage program. Farmers and ranchers using these tools will be able to input their own unique information data unique that, which will be combined with factors like the geographical diversity of crops, soils, weather and climates across the country, to test a variety of financial scenarios before officially signing up for the new program options later this year. Notably, once farmers enroll in the ARC or PLC program, they must remain in the program through the 2018 crop year.
For the NCPE, University of Illinois will serve as lead in development with assistance from Michigan State University, Montana State University, Watts & Associates, Delaware State University, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, North Carolina A&T University, University of Wisconsin, Cornell University, Pennsylvania State University, Ohio State University and University of Minnesota.
For the NAAFP, FAPRI and AFPC Texas Tech University, University of Missouri, Iowa State University, University of Nebraska, Kansas State University, Mississippi State University, Oklahoma State University, Tennessee State University, University of Georgia, and Fresno State University will serve as co-leads.
The additional $3 million awarded by USDA will go to state cooperative extension services, a nationwide network of experts based at land-grant universities, for outreach and education on the new Farm Bill programs. These funds will allow for education outreach meetings, beginning in late summer, during which producers can speak directly with local extension agents and Farm Service Agency staff about their questions concerning the new programs and their options under the farm bill.
While these universities work to create the online tools, farmers already have access to a preliminary website. This site provides information on the new programs and insight into the considerations that will be necessary when selecting the program option which works best for them. Site users can view ARC and PLC projected payments, ARC guarantee, and PLC payment rate projections. These tables are available on the FSA website.