Farm Bill Complexities Subject of KFB Workshop

Farm Bill Complexities Subject of KFB Workshop

Online tools available to help farmers figure out which programs, crops will work best for them in current Farm Bill.

Kansas agricultural producers have some complicated decisions to make between now and March 31 and Kansas Farm Bureau is trying to help.

The decisions involve which programs in the 2013 Farm Bill are best for their operation, whether to retail yields or update them and how to allocate base acres.

At Monday's Kansas Farm Bureau annual meeting in Manhattan, producers heard from national Farm Bureau lobbyist Mary Kay Thatcher, Kansas Farm Bureau Commodity Director Mark Nelson and Governmental Relations Director Ryan Flickner, who formed a panel to outline the decisions facing producers and take questions from the audience.

DECISION TIME: Ryan Flickner, left, Mary Kay Thatcher and Mark Nelson talk about the complexities farmers face when making decisions about which programs to sign up for in the latest Farm Bill, whether to update yield data and how to allocate base acres.

Thatcher said that USDA and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack have been very willing to listen to producer input about Farm Bill implementation and to make changes based on what they heard.

Help for farmers in managing the numbers to come up with the best outcome for their operation is available in the form of online spreadsheets from Kansas State University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Illinois, Nelson said.

Thatcher, however cautioned farmers that Texas A&M has said it plans to keep the data that farmers input into the spreadsheets in its online format.

"They didn't say what they will do with it, just that they plan to keep it," she said. "If you don't mind sharing your data with Texas A&M, that is fine as long as you are aware of it. If you would rather not share your data, then one of the other programs might be a better choice."

Flickner cautioned that this "is not your grandfather's Farm Bill" and urged producers to get help from children, a crop insurance agent or another trusted adviser if they don't fully understand the computer processes involved.

"This is incredibly complex and I urge you to use the computer to help run the numbers. Believe me, it takes a computer," he said.

Farm Bureau will host meetings in any county that requests it and provide data relevant to that county while answering questions to the best of their ability.

Thatcher also urged farmers to go ahead and sign up for programs as soon as possible.

"There is a concern that a lot of people are going to wait until the last minute and that is going to make for  a very tough last week of March," she said. "If you are 90% sure, go ahead and get the sign-up done. If you change your mind on one of two things, you can still go in and make change until March 31, but you'll have the bulk of the work done."

For more on this process, be sure to check your December Kansas Farmer magazine and watch for updates on this website.

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