Plenty to consider at OSU Extension farm bill meetings

Farmers who prefer planting over paperwork could gain a lot from a series of upcoming meetings that will guide them through the tedium of signing up for farm safety net programs and crop insurance.

Ohio State University Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are partnering to offer free meetings across Ohio to help growers of commodities decide on a government farm program that will help protect them against dips in farm income.

By March 15, farmers of corn, soybeans, and wheat have to decide which one of three government farm programs they want to enroll in. Each offers different benefits. Those who sign up for Agriculture Risk Coverage at the County Level (ARC-CO) receive a payment whenever revenue on a particular commodity in the county where their farm is located runs below a guaranteed level.

Another option is Agriculture Risk Coverage at the Individual Level (ARC-IC), which triggers a payment when revenue falls below the guaranteed level. The final option is the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program, which offers a payment when the average price for a particular commodity runs below a set price.

Income from participation in one of these programs amounted to $50 per acre, on average, for Ohio farmers between 2014 and 2018, said Ben Brown, an assistant professor of agricultural risk management at CFAES. The prediction is that income from those programs will decline to an average of about $8 per acre, said Brown, who will be leading the meetings with a team of OSU Extension educators and representatives from the USDA.

In 2020, prices for corn and soybeans are expected to decline to $3.53 a bushel for corn and $8.54 a bushel for soybeans, according to CFAES economists’ estimates. The estimates assume that weather challenges in 2020 won’t be nearly as difficult as they were in 2019, when spring rain levels prevented planting on an unprecedented number of Ohio’s acres that typically grow corn and soybeans.

Strategies for choosing crop insurance will also be discussed at the upcoming meetings to help farmers make decisions on the level of coverage they want to pursue for the coming growing year. At the meetings, farmers can learn about tips and free tools to make the decision process a bit easier.

“We offer tips on how to minimize risks, which will help people to become better farm managers,” Brown said. “We’re not selling a program or crop insurance. We’re giving advice to help farmers make the best decisions possible.”

To find out about upcoming meetings, visit go.osu.edu/countymeetings.

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