Making 2021 ARC/PLC Decisions

Contributed by Steve Johnson, Extension Farm Management Field Specialist, sdjohns@iastate.edu

Steve Johnson, headshot

Enrollment for the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program for the 2021 crop year is underway at your local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. That decision is by FSA farm number and the historical base acres of crops on that farm and tract. The signup period runs through March 15, 2021.

ARC/PLC is one of the USDA farm safety-net programs that can help producers with fluctuations in either revenue or price for certain commodity crops. These include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium and short-grain rice, safflower seed, seed cotton, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed, and wheat.

Local FSA offices are encouraging producers to take time over the next few months to evaluate their program elections and enroll for the 2021 crop year. ARC provides income support payments on historical base acres when actual crop revenue declines below a specified guaranteed level. PLC provides income support payments on historical base acres when the final national average cash price for a covered commodity falls below its effective reference price. For 2021, that’s at $3.70 per bushel for corn and $8.40 per bushel for soybeans, respectively.

2021 election and enrollment

Producers can elect coverage for the 2021 crop year and enroll in crop-by-crop ARC-County (ARC-CO) or PLC. Another choice is to enroll the entire farm in the ARC-Individual (ARC-IC) program. Although election changes for 2021 are optional, enrollment (a signed contract) is required for each year of the program. If a producer has a multi-year contract on the farm and makes an election change for 2021, it will be necessary to sign a new contract.

Key to this decision will be the national average cash price outlook for the 2021-22 marketing year. That is because the final national average cash price by crop will not be known until late September 2022. It must fall below the effective reference price for a PLC payment to be triggered. Most analysts expect those national cash price projections to be roughly $4.00 per bushel for corn and $10.00 per bushel for soybeans based on larger US planted acres, normal growing conditions, and strong US export demand. Since these projected prices are above the effective reference prices, then PLC payments would not be triggered for the 2021 crop year. Based on these current projections, most producers will likely elect and enroll both their corn and soybean base acres in the ARC-CO program to increase the likelihood of triggering a payment.

ARC-CO program payments are triggered when the actual county crop revenue of a covered commodity is less than the ARC-CO guarantee for the crop. The actual county revenue and the revenue guarantee are based on county-level yield data for the base acres’ physical location of the farm and tract. ARC-CO payments are not dependent upon the planting of a covered commodity or planting of the applicable base crop on the farm. Some producers could elect the ARC-IC program that combines the entire farm’s crop base acres, perhaps noting a higher risk of yield loss for 2021. ARC-IC farm eligibility is contingent on the planting of a covered commodity.

Signup deadline is March 15

If your ARC/PLC decision is not submitted to your local FSA office by March 15, 2021, the election defaults to the current election for crops on the farm from the prior crop year. For each crop year 2022 and 2023, you can make new elections annually during those sign up periods that end March 15. Farm owners can’t enroll in either program unless they have a shared interest in the crops on their farm.

Rather than waiting until the March 15 deadline, producers are encouraged to work with their local FSA office to make their election and enrollment decisions early. This will help spread out the workload for your FSA office and allow more time to focus on any crop insurance changes for your 2021 crops. 

New crop insurance product

A new county-based crop insurance product called Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO) can be added to your traditional multi-peril crop insurance coverage beginning in 2021. Note that ECO can be purchased regardless of your base acres having been enrolled in the ARC or PLC program. The Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) product can not be purchased unless the base acres on that farm were enrolled in the PLC program.

The ECO offers producers a choice of 90% or 95% trigger levels of county-based coverage for a portion of the underlying crop insurance policy. If you choose revenue protection, then ECO covers revenue losses. ECO provides a band of coverage between these elected levels and 86%. Expect most producers interested in buying ECO in 2021, may plan to enroll in either ARC or PLC and then buy-up their farm-level revenue protection to the 80% or 85% levels. That’s because of the subsidy levels and premiums to be paid for the underlying crop insurance products.

Educational programs on the 2021 Farm Bill sign-up decision will be offered virtually in early 2021 from ISU Extension and Outreach. Watch the Ag Decision Maker Farm Bill page for details.

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How to streamline your CFAP application

Alejandro Plastina

Contributed by Alejandro Plastina, Extension Economist, Assistant Professor, plastina@iastate.edu

If you are a farmer or rancher who faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19, you have until August 28, 2020 to file for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) with your local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.

The CFAP application form AD-3114 is available online for producers who prefer to fill it out manually. However, according to the Paperwork Reduction Act, filling out the AD-3114 form is estimated to take one hour per response. In order to streamline the CFAP application in times of social distancing and phased reopening of businesses, the USDA has published a CFAP Payment Calculator that serves multiple purposes:

  • helps producers organize the information needed to apply for CFAP;
  • informs producers of the initial payment and the potential for subsequent payments;
  • automatically populates a printable version of the AD-3114 form; and
  • saves in-person or on-the-phone consultations with FSA staff.

This article provides a step-by-step guide to using USDA’s CFAP Payment Calculator. You will need a computer with internet access and spreadsheet software. In order to print the completed AD-3114 form, you will also need a printer connected to the computer.

Follow these steps to calculate your CFAP payment and print the AD-3114 form:

  1. Download the CFAP Calculator and save it to your computer.
  2. Open the Calculator from the saved location. A message highlighted in yellow might appear at the top of the spreadsheet asking your permission to “Enable Editing.” Press the gray button with the legend “Enable Editing” to operate the spreadsheet.
Excel bar for "enable editing"

  1. If a message highlighted in red appears at the top of your screen indicating “Blocked Content”, then proceed as described in Step 4. If no such message appears, go to Step 5.
Excel bar for "Macros warning"
  1. Close the file in the spreadsheet software. To allow your computer to run the program embedded in the Calculator (called “Macros”), use the Windows File Explorer (PC computer) or Finder (Mac computer) to browse to the saved file in your computer, click the second mouse button on the file name to access its Properties, locate the “Unblock” option at the bottom, check the Unblock box, and press OK. Then open the file in the spreadsheet software and click on the “Enable Editing” button. The Calculator should be operational.
  2. The spreadsheet is organized into 5 tabs, but you will enter data only on the “Data Entry” tab, and only in the cells highlighted in light-yellow. You only need to fill out the sections relevant to your operation: Dairy, Non-Specialty Crops, Livestock, Aquaculture/Nursery, and Specialty Crops.
  3. Fill out the top section with State, County, Name, and Address.
  4. If you produced Dairy in 2020, fill out Part 1: enter the total pounds of production, including any dumped milk, in January, February, and March 2020. If you do not produce Dairy, leave Part 1 blank.
  5. If you produced corn, soybeans, oats, or other Non-Specialty Crops (including Wool) in 2019, fill out Part 2: in each row, select a crop from the drop-down menu; enter the 2019 total production across all your farms; and the 2019 total production not sold as of January 15, 2020. If your crop is not listed in the drop-down menu of Part 2, then see if it is listed in the drop-down menu of Part 5. If your crop is not listed in Parts 2 or 5, then it is not eligible for CFAP. If you did not produce Non-Specialty Crops in 2019, leave Part 2 blank.
  6. If you owned Livestock in 2020, fill out Part 3: in each row, select a livestock category; enter the total sales between January 15, 2020, and April 15, 2020 for owned inventory as of January 15, 2020, including any sales of offspring from owned inventory; and the highest inventory between April 16, 2020, and May 14, 2020. If you did not own livestock in 2020, leave Part 3 blank. 
  7. If you were an Aquaculture/Nursery farmer in 2020, fill out Part 4: in each row, enter the name of the commodity that suffered value loss; the total value of sales from all farms between January 15, 2020 and April 15, 2020; and the total value of marketable inventory from all farms as of April 15, 2020. Note that reported losses in Part 4 are not included in the Calculated Initial Payment reported by this Calculator.  USDA is continuing to review data associated with the impact of COVID-19 on value loss crops. Specific value loss crops that meet the eligibility criteria will be identified in the future. If you were not an aquaculture/nursery farmer in 2020, leave Part 4 blank.
  8. If you produced Specialty Crops in 2020, fill out Part 5: in each row, select a crop from the drop-down menu; enter the total value of production sold between January 15, 2020, and April 15, 2020; the total volume of production shipped but not sold between January 15, 2020 and April 15, 2020; and the total acres with production not shipped or sold between January 15, 2020 and April 15, 2020. If your crop is not listed in the drop-down menu of Part 5, then see if it is listed in the drop-down menu of Part 2. If your crop is not listed in Parts 2 or 5, then it is not eligible for CFAP. If you did not produce Specialty Crops in 2020, leave Part 5 blank.
  9. If the CFAP application is for a corporation, a limited liability company, or a limited partnership seeking an increase in the per-person payment limitation, fill out Part 6: enter the names of members/partners or stockholders who provide 400 hours or more of active personal labor or active personal management, or combination thereof, to the farming operation. If 2 or 3 members of the corporation, LLC, or LP are listed in Part 6, the payment limit will be increased from $250,000 to $500,000 or $750,000, respectively. If the application is not for a corporation, LLC, or LP, leave Part 6 blank.
  10. Revise for completeness and correct any mistakes. Check for typos, and make sure you are not leaving out any eligible commodity in the Data Entry tab.
  11. Check your Calculated Initial Payment by clicking on the orange button “GO TO ESTIMATED PAYMENT REPORT” in the top left part of the Data Entry tab. This action will take you to the tab called “ECPR”, and the Calculated Initial Payment amount will appear in the box at the top of the tab. The Calculated Initial Payment equals 80% of the Estimated Gross Payment before limitations and other reductions. For aquaculture/nursery farmers, the Calculated Initial Payment does not include value losses reported in Part 4 (see Step 10).
  12. Your Initial Payment will be the lesser of the Calculated Initial Payment or $200,000 per individual (equivalent to 80% of the $250,000 payment limit per individual). For corporations, limited liability companies, and limited partnerships, the limit is 80% of the payment limitation calculated in Step 12. You can print the calculations in the “ECPR” tab by clicking on the red button at the top of the tab called “PRINT ECPR.” Go back to the “Data Entry” tab by clicking on the blue button at the top called “GO TO DATA ENTRY”.
  13. Save the file for future reference: go to File menu in your spreadsheet software, and select the Save command.
  14. Print the AD-3114 form by clicking on the yellow button “PRINT AD-3114” in the top left part of the “Data Entry” tab. Depending on the number of eligible commodities you produced, some of your commodities might not show up in the printed AD-3114 form. In that case, click on the light-orange button “PRINT AD-3114 Continuation.” Revise the print out for accuracy, sign, and submit the CFAP application to your local FSA Office.

Any part of your Calculated Initial Payment (see Step 14) below 80% of your payment limit and above Your Initial Payment (see Step 15) might trigger subsequent payments at a later date.

Note that the present article was developed for USDA’s CFAP Payment Calculator Version 1, last accessed on May 29, 2020. The USDA might update the Calculator without prior notice and render some or all parts of this information outdated.

For more information on CFAP, visit https://www.farmers.gov/cfap.

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Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) enrollment

Contributed by Steve Johnson, Extension Farm Management Field Specialist, sdjohns@iastate.edu

Steve Johnson, headshot

The USDA announced the producer signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) allocated by Congress through the CARES Act that will begin on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. That enrollment will be through your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office with additional CFAP details and the enrollment process at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap.

The $16 billion available for CFAP includes direct relief for farmers, with $9.6 billion for the livestock industry ($5.1 billion for cattle, $2.9 billion for dairy, and $1.6 billion for hogs). It has $3.9 billion for row crop producers, $2.1 billion for specialty crop producers, and $500 million for other crops.

USDA officials are urging farmers to begin the paperwork process using an online calculator available once sign-up begins. These payments will be coupled with actual production and based on losses due to price declines and supply chain disruptions from COVID-19. To qualify for a payment, a commodity must have declined in price by at least 5% between January and April 2020.

Producers will be paid based on inventory subject to price risk held as of Jan. 15, 2020. A single payment will be made based on 50% of a producer’s 2019 total production or the 2019 inventory still not sold as of Jan. 15, 2020, whichever is smaller. This amount for each crop will be multiplied by 50% and then multiplied by the commodity’s applicable payment rates featured below:

CFAP Payment Rates by Commodity

CommodityUnit of MeasureCARES Act Payment RateCCC Payment Rate
Cornbushel$0.32$0.35
Soybeansbushel$0.45$0.50
See all non-specialty crop rates.

Producers must provide the following information as a part of their CFAP application:

  • Total 2019 production for the commodity that suffered a 5% or more price decline, and
  • Total 2019 production that wasn’t sold as of Jan. 15, 2020.

This video demonstrates how the new CFAP application form can be downloaded, completed, signed, dated, and then mailed or e-mailed to your local FSA office.

Producers should make an extra copy of this completed CFAP application form for their records. Attach any proof of how you determined the 2019 total production by crop and the 2019 production that was “not sold” as of Jan. 15, 2020.

The CFAP program will be open to all producers, regardless of commodity or size. Some farmers may not have traditionally worked regularly with FSA. Once signup begins, some producers may want to contact their local FSA office to schedule an appointment. In that case, FSA staff will help those producers complete portions of form CCC-902 Farm Operating Plan. Other forms will also be needed to apply for CFAP, although if you’ve dealt with FSA before, it’s likely they already have these on file.

These forms include:

  • CCC-901—Identifies members of a farm that is a legal entity. Member information will be completed by legal entities and joint organizations to collect member names, addresses, tax ID numbers, and citizenship status.
  • CCC-941—Reports your average adjusted gross income for programs where income restrictions apply.
  • CCC-942—This certification reports income from farming, ranching, and forestry for those exceeding the adjusted gross income limitation.
  • AD-1026—Ensures compliance with highly erodible land conservation and wetland conservation.
  • AD-2047—Provides basic customer contact information.
  • SF-3881—Collects your banking information to allow USDA to make payments to you via direct deposit.

More information will be available on the Ag Decision Maker blog as details on CFAP are released.

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Plan how best to work with your local FSA office

Contributed by Steve Johnson, Extension Farm Management Field Specialist, sdjohns@iastate.edu

Steve Johnson, headshot

The ongoing COVID-19 situation has changed the way your local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office is conducting business with producers this spring. Local FSA offices are currently using alternative methods to provide service and ensure compliance with FSA provisions. Appointments can be made by phone, mail, or e-mail – rather than face-to-face interactions. Once producers have completed planting their 2020 spring crops, they should contact the local FSA office to obtain their certification maps to complete the annual acreage certification process.

The following is a 4-step process provided by a county FSA office in Iowa to their producers for completing their 2020 acreage report:

  1. Your local FSA office can provide farm/tract maps upon your request. They can provide them through the mail or e-mail. Once received, write in a legible pen what crop is planted in each field, including hay ground, grassed waterways, terraces, CRP, etc. and the approximate acreage amounts in those areas. 
  2. Next enter the planting date for each field below the crop type.
  3. If the producer shares the crop with another producer(s); list each individual/entity and their respective share of the crop. The total of listed shares must equal 100%.
  4. If the producer is unable to legibly write the crop, planting date, acres and producer shares (if necessary); then provide a sheet of paper along with the map that lists the field number, the crop, date planted, acres and shares.

Once you have all the acreage on your tract maps accounted for, contact your local FSA office to schedule a phone appointment to go through your maps. This can be handled in one of two ways:

Option 1) You may return your completed maps to the county office for loading into the crop certification software via mail, e-mail, fax, or the drop box located outside your local FSA office.

Option 2) FSA staff can contact you and go through your maps over the phone together. This includes FSA updating your crops/dates/acres/shares and entering them into the crop certification software and allowing you to provide any other pertinent information.

In either case, you will subsequently receive the printed acreage form for your signature in the mail or via e-mail. Indicate to FSA your preference when contacted. Then return your signed FSA Form 578 via mail, e-mail, fax or drop box located at your local FSA office. The deadline is July 15, 2020 for filing this form .

Producers should plan to keep good records at planting each year and file a timely FSA Form 578. Annually these records include the date, the crop and acres planted, and producer shares along with the reference to the farm number. Do not forget you will need to include hay ground, grassed waterways, terraces, CRP, etc.

Filing an accurate and timely acreage report for all crops and land is important. This report is an essential part of determining your eligibility for critical programs, including crop insurance, price support, disaster relief and conservation programs.

Remember, both the FSA office and your crop insurance agent will need accurate planting information and your signature when you complete the acreage certification FSA Form 578. The planted acres on this form are verification for your crop insurance agent in determining your 2020 crop insurance coverage, and thus your final premium to be paid this fall.

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COVID-19 Resources for Agriculture

While in-person events remain on hold, ISU Extension and Outreach, including Ag Decision Maker, remains committed to serving Iowans. A few resources are included below, and more will be added as needed

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