Why it is not OK to use NASS yields to calculate ARC-CO payments

plastina_alejandro_2014Alejandro Plastina, ISU Extension Economist, provides explanation of the yield data used in calculating ARC-CO payments in Iowa.

On February 22 2016, the USDA National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) released the final county crop production estimates for 2015: 73 Iowa counties had higher corn yields in 2015 than in 2014, 22 had lower yields, and 2015 corn yields were not reported for Mills, Monroe, Taylor, and Union County; 86 counties had higher soybean yields, 11 had lower yields, and 2015 soybean yields were not reported for Taylor and Mills County.

Knowing that higher county yields reduce the likelihood and the potential amount of ARC-CO payments, the NASS release spurred the interest of producers to recalculate their own projected ARC-CO payments for the 2015/16 crop marketing year. However, two important details often overlooked when calculating projected ARC-CO payments are (1) that county yields are determined on a per planted acre basis, as opposed to a per harvested acre basis; and (2) that the official county yields used in the final calculation of ARC-CO payments are published by USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), as opposed to NASS.

NASS yields are calculated as production (in bushels) divided by harvested acres. Since they are not determined on a per planted acre basis, they cannot be used to calculate ARC-CO payments.

FSA yields are only available after the end of the crop year and are calculated on a per planted acre basis. Therefore, most of the difference between FSA and NASS yields is explained by failed acres. The average difference between FSA and NASS county corn yields in Iowa for 2014/15 (the only year for which both yields are publicly available), amounts to 4.75 bushels per acre.

arcco3232016In an effort to reflect the impact of failed acres on the yield used to project ARC-CO payments, the ISU Projected ARC-CO Payment Calculator uses “corrected” yields in the calculation of the 2015/16 actual county crop revenue. The “corrected” yields are based on NASS production data and obtained by dividing production (in bushels) by planted acres. For 63 Iowa counties the “corrected” yields in 2014/15 were closer to the official FSA yields than NASS yields were. For example, the corn yield used by FSA to calculate ARC-CO payments for Lyon County in 2014/15 is 149 bushels, while the NASS yield is 172.9 bushels, and the “corrected” yield is 155 bushels. The average difference between FSA and “corrected” corn yields amounted to 0.42 bushels per acre.

Judging by the release date of 2014 county yields by FSA on October 23, 2015, it can be expected that FSA will release final 2015 county yields in October 2016, at about the same time as the 2015 ARC-CO payments. Until then, the ISU ARC-CO Payment Calculator will use a “calculated” yield and projected marketing year price until the price for the marketing year is finalized the end of September.

All ISU Extension and Outreach Farm Bill decision tools are available online at: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/info/farmbill.html

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2013 ACRE revenue shortfall triggers corn payment

Contributed by Steven D. JohnsonFarm Management Specialist, Iowa State University Extension, sdjohns@iastate.edu, 515-957-5790

Johnson_Steve_smThe Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE), a counter-cyclical program created in the 2008 farm bill has had limited participation by Iowa producers. In addition to the Direct & Counter-Cyclical Payment (DCP) programs, a producer could also enroll by FSA farm number in this new ACRE program. There was a cost of participation, as a producer was required to give up 20% of their Direct Payment (DP) annually.

The ACRE program used a combination of state average yields, farm level yields and the national marketing year average (MYA) national cash price to determine levels of revenue guarantees and payments for each covered commodity on a farm enrolled. There were two revenue triggers that had to be met annually before any ACRE payments were generated, one at the state level and one at the farm level.

The price component of both of the state and farm level triggers is the average of the two most recent USDA marketing year prices. The marketing year runs from September through August each year and uses a weighted average to determine the national cash price. The marketing year average (MYA) national cash prices for the 2011 and 2012 crops were $6.22 and $6.89 per bushel, respectively. The 2013 MYA national cash price of $4.46 per bushel was released on September 29, 2014.

2013 ACRE payment is approximately $45 per base acre for corn

To trigger a payment under ACRE the “actual” revenue for both the state and the farm must be less than their corresponding guarantees. The actual revenues are the current marketing year cash price multiplied by the state average yield and the actual farm level yield, respectively. If both triggers are reached, the payment to the farm will be the difference between the state revenue guarantee and the state actual revenue.

The payment level cannot exceed 25% of the state guarantee, however. It will also be adjusted up or down by the ratio of the farm Olympic average yield to the state Olympic average yield. For example, if the farm average yield is 10% above the state average yield, the ACRE payment will be increased by 10% for that farm. Because of this 10% limit, the state revenue guarantee for 2013 was $781. The actual state revenue was approximately $736 per acre or 165 bushel per acre state corn yield times $4.46 per bushel national cash price in 2013. This leaves a shortfall in revenue of approximately $45 per base acre of corn.

The 2013 ACRE payment was made on 85% of the farm’s base acres. However, the total planted acres that receive a payment cannot exceed the total base acres for all crops established for the counter-cyclical payments. Producers who signed up for the 2013 ACRE program did receive 80% of the direct payments that have been paid in 2013, regardless of actual prices or yields each year.

Check with your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) Office

For those 6,000 Iowa farms enrolled in the 2013 ACRE program, they were required to submit 2013 actual farm’s yields to their local FSA office by mid-July. Those same farms will still need to meet both the farm and state triggers. That payment to the farm will be the difference between the state revenue guarantee and the state actual revenue, which appears likely for corn for the 2013 crop. Since the MYA national cash price was not known until September 29, 2014, the ACRE payment is not made until October 2014. Payments to those farms enrolled and appropriate yield information is expected to be made by FSA after October 10, 2014.

Using the ACRE Payment Estimator

Iowa State University Extension created an Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Payment Estimator, an online tool, in 2008 to assist producers as they determined if they should enroll in the ACRE program. The calculator has since been updated. You can use this same calculator now to estimate the potential 2013 ACRE payment for your farm, which appears likely for corn base acres. You can find an Information File and Decision Tool titled Average Crop Revenue (ACRE) on the Ag Decision Maker website.

For information related to the 2014 Farm Bill, visit the Ag Decision Maker Farm Bill webpage.

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USDA Farm Service Agency Announces Key Dates for New 2014 Farm Bill Safety Net Programs

Farmers can Update Yield History and/or Reallocate Base Acres through Feb. 27, 2015;
Producers Select the Safety Net Program Best for Their Operation Beginning Nov. 17, 2014 through March 31, 2015


WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing key dates for farm owners and producers to keep in mind regarding the new 2014 Farm Bill established programs, Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). The new programs, designed to help producers better manage risk, usher in one of the most significant reforms to U.S. farm programs in decades.


“The ARC and PLC programs are a significant reform in the farm safety net,” said Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini. “FSA wants to keep producers well informed on all steps in the process. We will continue our outreach efforts and maintain resources online to help them understand the new programs before they come in to make decisions for their operations.”


Dates associated with ARC and PLC that farm owners and producers need to know:
  • Sept. 29, 2014 to Feb. 27, 2015: Land owners may visit their local Farm Service Agency office to update yield history and/or reallocate base acres.
  • Nov. 17, 2014 to March 31, 2015: Producers make a one-time election of either ARC or PLC for the 2014 through 2018 crop years.
  • Mid-April 2015 through summer 2015: Producers sign contracts for 2014 and 2015 crop years.
  • October 2015: Payments for 2014 crop year, if needed.
USDA leaders will visit with producers across the country to share information and answer questions on the ARC and PLC programs.


USDA helped create online tools to assist in the decision process, allowing farm owners and producers to enter information about their operation and see projections that show what ARC and/or PLC will mean for them under possible future scenarios. The new tools are now available at www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc. Farm owners and producers can access the online resources from the convenience of their home computer or mobile device at any time. USDA provided $3 million to the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri and the Agricultural and Food Policy Center (AFPC) at Texas A&M (co-leads for the National Association of Agricultural and Food Policy), along with the University of Illinois (lead for the National Coalition for Producer Education) to develop these online tools.


Covered commodities 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 rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity.

Today’s announcement was made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

Sept. 29, 2014 to Feb. 27, 2015
Nov. 17, 2014 to March 31, 2015
Mid-April through Summer 2015
October 2015
Land owners make base reallocation/yield updates
Producers make election between ARC/PLC
Producers sign contracts for 2014 and 2015 crop years
Payments for 2014 crop year, if needed

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