USDA on Friday morning said farmers will have until April 7 – about an extra week-and-a-half – to sign up for PLC and ARC farm safety net programs authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill.
The final day to update yield history or reallocate base acres also will be April 7, 2015, USDA said.
"This is an important decision for producers because these programs help farmers and ranchers protect their operations from unexpected changes in the marketplace," Vilsack said.
"Nearly 98% of owners have already updated their yield and base acres, and 90% of producers have enrolled in ARC or PLC. These numbers are strong, and continue to rise. This additional week will give producers a little more time to have those final conversations, review their data, visit their local Farm Service Agency offices, and make their decisions," he said.
What farm bill program decisions are farmers planning to make? Have a look in Farm Futures' exclusive illustrated report.
If no changes are made to yield history or base acres by the deadline, the farm's current yield and base acres will be used. If a program choice of Ag Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage is not made, there will be no 2014 crop year payments for the farm and the farm will default to PLC coverage for the 2015 through 2018 crop years.
Producers who have an appointment at their local FSA offices scheduled by April 7 will be able to make an election between ARC and PLC, even if their actual appointment is after April 7, USDA said.
According to FSA Administrator Val Dolcini, 98% of the nation's farmers already have reallocated their base acres.
"Close to 90% have made the election between ARC and PLC," Dolcini told state Farm Bureau members this week, reiterating the figure in a Friday press conference. "Still there are some questions folks have in different parts of country, but we are feeling pretty good about where we are at in terms of the numbers."
Dolcini on Friday said more FSA help will be heading to Oklahoma and Texas to handle USDA livestock forage program backlogs, but may also assist with PLC-ARC paperwork.
States in the Upper Midwest are largely done, he said, but FSA is still reaching out to states to determine where help is needed.
"We're a hard working agency and beginning last February when we rolled out that first farm bill program, we've been hard at it," he said.
Covered commodities under ARC and PLC include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat.
Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity.
To learn more about the USDA farm safety net programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, farmers can contact their local Farm Service Agency county office.