Official: Growers can get assistance

By Alisa Boswell

Eastern New Mexico and west Texas farmers are better off taking an individual-based government assistance that would cover 65 percent of their crops, according to an area agricultural leader.

The new Farm Bill, to take effect the end of 2014, tries to account for farmers’ crops in all regions, according to Chris Cogburn, strategic business director for National Sorghum Producers of Lubbock.

Cogburn spoke at a Farm Bill Program meeting Tuesday at the Clovis Civic Center about what they can expect with government assistance and insurance for crops.

Cogburn noted at the start of his presentation that his information was based on NSP’s reading of the new bill.

He referred to the new Farm Bill as being much more flexible than previous bills, saying it accounts for areas of drought, such as eastern New Mexico and west Texas, as well as other regions.

“There are choices to be made,” Cogburn said of the new Farm Bill. “I’m not saying they account for everybody, but they’re trying.”

Cogburn said for 2014 crops, producers must choose between two types of government assistance: Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), but farmers will not see any ARC or PLC payments until Oct. 1, 2015.

The PLC plan is strictly an individual-based plan in which an agricultural producer will be paid 65 percent of their base acreage if the national market price of crops drops.

Under the ARC plan, producers have an individual-based option or a county-based option.

Cogburn said the county-based option pays producers 85 percent of the yield for their entire county’s crops when the national market price drops.

He said PLC will likely be the choice plan of farmers in the west Texas and eastern New Mexico region because unlike the “corn belt” of eastern Kansas, producers west of there have varying yields due to drought problems.

He said in an area where yields are low, it is more beneficial for a producer to be paid based on their own yield than that of their entire county.

Cogburn said PLC is also better for the region because under the plan, producers can purchase the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO), a form of crop insurance, which will offer additional money back when a producer is suffering from losses.

Cotton is not included in the new Farm Bill Program, so a new insurance plan called Stacked Income Protection (STAX) will be offered to cover only cotton crops.

Cogburn said agricultural producers are only allowed a one-time decision concerning the assistance plans.

He said if a producer does not make a decision, they will be automatically enrolled in PLC for 2015-2018. He added that a timeline has not yet been set for producers to make a decision.