The recent passage of the 2014 Farm Bill (formally known as the Agricultural Act of 2014) brings about some significant changes in agricultural policies, specifically within Titles One and Eleven in the legislation. The following summarizes the key changes that were made, the new programs that are being made available to landowners and producers, and the decisions that these individuals or firms will need to make.
First, from Title One, the new bill eliminates Direct Payments, the Counter-Cyclical program (CCP), the Average Crop Revenue Election program (ACRE), and the supplemental revenue assistance program. Marketing loans are retained and unchanged.
New offerings for 2014 through 2018 are Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC). PLC and ARC cannot be chosen for the same base acres and committing to either PLC or ARC is locked for the duration of the current Farm Bill (5 years). Also, for 2014 only, transition payments for current cotton base acres and yield will be available.
Two new Title Eleven products are Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) for planted cotton acres and Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) for other covered program crops. Both STAX and SCO are an “insurance styled” revenue protection coverage.
With respect to base acres, landowners are provided the opportunity to reallocate the current base acre allotment. This attempts to bring current base allotment more in-line with recent plantings. The reallocation of covered commodities will be in proportion to the 4-year average of the planted acres (actual planted and prevented plantings) from 2009 to 2012 crop years. Also, yields can be updated to reflect 90% of the 5-year average from 2008 to 2012.
Given that cotton is no longer a covered (Title One) commodity, current cotton base can be converted to “generic” base. In any year that generic base is planted to a covered commodity, that base will fall in-line with the program choice for that commodity. For example, if soybeans are allocated to generic base in 2015 then the generic base will be follow the soybean program chosen (ARC or PLC). Then if corn were planted to the generic base in 2016, the generic base would follow the corn program chosen (ARC or PLC).