PHOENIX, Feb. 27, 2015 -- USDA is extending the deadline for producers to update their base yields or reallocate their base acres to March 31, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. The original deadline was today.

The 2014 farm bill’s gives farm owners the opportunity to clarify their commodity base acres before choosing one of two new farm programs that replaced direct payments -- Price Loss Coverage or Agricultural Risk Coverage, which both pay on base acres.

Producers must still make the decision to elect PLC or ARC by March 31, the original deadline. Vilsack encouraged producers to make the election before the deadline, noting that if they want to change their minds before March 31 they have the freedom to do so.

“When we need to extend something or be flexible, we do anything possible to make that happen,” Vilsack told attendees at the Commodity Classic in Phoenix. “Our goal is for you to make that election.” If a producer fails to make an election, USDA defaults to PLC. The choice of program is a one-time decision that cannot be changed during the five-year life of the farm bill.

Vilsack said 60 percent of farmers that USDA expected to make a change to base acres or yields have done so, but “we know we created a challenge with some operations that are still working with their landowners.”

Only about 30 percent of producers have decided between ARC and PLC, but “we’ve seen a remarkable uptick in the last two weeks,” Vilsack said. He emphasized the availability of online tools designed to help producers decide between the two programs.

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.


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