COLUMBIA, Mo. – “Farmers may not realize they face tough choices on federal crop programs,” says a University of Missouri economist.  “These issues affect farm success or failure.”

“When crop prices soared, farmers didn’t need price protection,” says Scott Brown, Columbia. “After prices plunged, the 2014 farm bill’s safety net became critical.”

Crop economists report corn-planting costs in 2015 can be above current harvest prices. Unlike previous crops, farmers face per-acre losses.

“Growers must decide and sign up for a farm bill option at their local USDA Farm Service Agency office,” Brown says. “If no choice is made, a default program kicks in.”

Unlike previous plans, farm bill decisions must include both the farmer and landlord. Both should study options.

University of Missouri Extension has schedule four meetings for farmers and landowners, Brown says.

Date, place, time and local organizers are:

Nov. 10, Miner-Sikeston area, Miner Convention Center, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., David Reinbott, MU Extension Center, Benton.

Nov. 11, Macon, Macon County Expo Center, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Karisha Devlin, MU Extension Center, Edina.

Nov. 11, St. Joseph, Missouri Western State University, Blum Union, 4525 Downs Drive, 5-9 p.m., Bob Kelly, MU Extension Center, St. Joseph.

Nov. 12, Sedalia, State Fair Community College, Thompson Conference Center, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Brent Carpenter, MU Extension Center, Sedalia.

All meetings are free. However, registration is requested by Nov. 5 to the MU Conference Office at or 866-682-6663 (toll-free).

“The 2014 farm bill presents a complex array of programs that differ farm to farm and region to region,” Brown says. “This will take homework to come up with a choice from three plans offered.”

In the past, farm bill sign-up was simple. “Do you want direct payments?” Brown says. “Farmers had only to decide to enroll, or not.”

Under the old farm bill, the farmer received a payment regardless of price. “The check came quick in a known amount determined by base acres enrolled.”

The new farm bill provides price or revenue protection options for producers to decide between, with protection based on past base and yields.

To enroll, a farmer must assure the FSA office records represent the farm situation.

A first step will be program yield update and base acre reallocation among crops grown on the farm. “The base can change, but can’t be increased,” Brown says. “Farm records become important.”

The regional meetings will show the computer-assisted tools created for farmer use. Developers will be present.

Not all can be covered in one meeting, Brown says. One-on-one meetings with local extension specialists may be needed.

“It’s important that farmers learn how detailed changes will affect their farm,” Brown says. “Decisions made now will remain in effect for the life of the farm bill. That takes analysis.”

Many groups will cooperate with MU Extension, Brown says. That includes Missouri corn and soybean growers, Missouri Farm Bureau, FCS Financial and Missouri FSA.

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