Implementation of the newest farm bill has been slow, but the regulations are written, and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced sign up officially began Sept. 3.
However, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is letting producers at meetings around the state know that since so much is still undecided, it may be prudent to wait until Oct. 1 when they can sign up for 2019 and 2020.
The 2014 farm bill, which covered 2014-2018, expired at the end of 2018. The new 2018 farm bill passed in December and covers 2019-2023 crop years. Sign-up in 2019 was delayed by the government shutdown and is only beginning this month. But, waiting until October will provide producers the opportunity to enroll for both 2019 and 2020.
DeDe Jones, AgriLife Extension risk management specialist, Amarillo, recently spoke at a Randall County field day and said, “Either way you should have a while. But in terms of overall bill, this new legislation is pretty much the 2014 farm bill with a cherry on top. No new money at all.”
Producers will not be allowed to update or reallocate base acres, and base acres planted to pasture or grass will no longer receive payments, Jones said. That only affects farms where all base acres were out of production from Jan. 1, 2009 to Dec. 31, 2017, and these farms can apply to participate in a grassland incentive contract under the Conservation Stewardship Program for $18 per acre.
Justin Benavidez, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension economist, Amarillo, said the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M, or AFPC, College Station, can help producers work through their options with the 2018 Farm Bill Decision Aid.
Also, in the 2018 farm bill there was little change to crop insurance subsidies or payment limits. Payment limits remain at $125,000 per person, and the adjusted gross income limit to be eligible for program payments is still $900,000 per person.
There’s also an improvement in conservation programs, including a gradual increase in the Conservation Reserve Program, CRP, acreage from 24 million to 27 million acres. More money was also added to the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, EQIP, which benefits many Texas producers.
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