U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today, as part of his ongoing effort to introduce multiple proposals to be included in the 2018 farm bill, unveiled several common-sense modifications to the commodity title of the farm bill. Thune’s legislation would simplify the Agriculture Risk Coverage-County (ARC-CO) payment process for multi-county farms and require a mandatory crop acreage base update that would be determined by planted and considered-planted commodity crop acres on a farm for the years 2014-2017. While a Congressional Budget Office score is not currently available, the legislation is expected to save taxpayer dollars.
“These common-sense proposals represent a fiscally responsible approach to updating and modernizing a key title of the farm bill,” said Thune. “There’s a limited amount of federal assistance that goes to farmers and ranchers throughout the country, and in today’s sluggish agriculture economy, I think it’s important for us to allocate it as efficiently as possible. By correctly calculating ARC-CO payments as Congress intended them to be and updating base acres using the most recent planting history, we can both save taxpayers money and more accurately target commodity assistance to those who need it the most.”
ARC Payment Acres Based on Physical Location:
- The 2014 farm bill established the ARC-CO program (of which 76 percent of base acres are enrolled nationwide), which is designed to provide a safety net for participating producers when crop revenue in a county is below a targeted amount.
- For farms with land that is physically located in more than one county, the U.S. Department of Agriculture calculates ARC-CO payments based on only one of those counties, the administrative county.
- For example, if tracts of land on a farm are located in Turner County, McCook County, and Hutchinson County, one of those counties will be designated as the administrative county for the farm, and the administrative county’s payment rate is used to calculate ARC-CO payments for all of the land in the farm.
- Since ARC-CO payments vary by county and are currently calculated by administrative county for multi-county farms, many participating farms are receiving payments based on payment rates for the administrative county, even though certain land on that farm might be physically located in a county with a lower ARC-CO payment rate.
- The intent of Congress was for ARC-CO payments to be calculated using the payment rate for the county in which land is physically located. Thune’s proposal would codify this payment method and eliminate the confusion and incorrect payments that have resulted from the administrative county payment method for multi-county farms.
Mandatory Base Update:
- After the 2014 farm bill sign-up, there were 260 million base acres in the United States, with 23 base acre crops. Corn, wheat, and soybeans amount to 83 percent of base acres. Base acres are used to calculate commodity title program payments.
- Since current law allowed base acres to be calculated using planting history as far back as 1991, the 2014 farm bill bases are not an accurate reflection of the most recently planted acres of commodity crops.
- Although a farm may not have been planted to a commodity crop for years, if that farm has base acres, it may still be eligible to receive commodity title payments under current law.
- Thune’s legislation would require a mandatory crop acreage base update that would be determined by planted and considered-planted acres on a farm for the years 2014-2017. The updated data would help target commodity payments more accurately.
Click here for additional details on Thune’s latest rollout.
To learn more about Thune’s 2018 farm bill, including the Soil Health and Income Protection Program and the Conservation Program Improvement Act of 2017, please visit the farm bill section on www.thune.senate.gov.