Don’t hurry to sign up for new farm program


ST. PAUL, Minn. – Don’t be in a hurry to sign up for the new farm program, said one economist with the University of Minnesota.

“Changes are still being made in the program, so patience is likely to be the best strategy in the short run,” said Kevin Klair. “If you sign up early, you may not have access to all the pertinent information, and you could need to change your sign-up later.”

Recent change. The USDA announced a major change to the new farm program Oct. 2 regarding the calculation for oilseed acres. The average oilseed acres planted from 1998 to 2001 will now be added to existing crop base acres.

This will increase the eligible oilseed base for producers who raised 100 percent corn one year and 100 percent soybeans the following year. It may also increase the eligible oilseed base for producers of alfalfa and other non-program crops.

“This change will allow many producers to add more oilseed base acres than the original calculation allowed,” said Klair.

Waiting won’t hurt. Unless you are short on cash flow and need the government payments immediately, Klair recommends waiting until November or December to sign up.

“Waiting until the dust has settled and the program is more stable will save you time, and therefore, money,” he adds.

Klair said if you want to sign up for cash flow purposes, remember that you will only receive an additional 2 cents per bushel for corn and 6 cents per bushel for wheat over what has already been paid for 2002. Soybeans, however, do have a 44-cent payment upon sign-up.

For those who do sign up, USDA said payments should begin to arrive in late October.

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