March 26, 2015 / 5:46 PM / 4 years ago

USDA says a quarter of farmers yet to select subsidies

CHICAGO, March 26 (Reuters) - About 25 percent of U.S. farmers have yet to make their final selections for the government’s new crop subsidies with the deadline to enroll less than a week away, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Thursday.

Grain farmers have until next Tuesday to choose between the federal government’s new subsidy programs created under the 2014 Farm Bill - agricultural risk coverage (ARC), which is a price-average option, and price lose coverage (PLC), which is a fixed-price program.

By Tuesday farmers also must update their crop acreage and yield history, data that will be used to determine farmers’ subsidies over the life of the five-year federal law.

Responding to a Reuters inquiry, the USDA said in a statement that 94 percent of grain farmers had updated their crop history as of March 19, but only 77 percent had elected either ARC or PLC to complete their five-year eligibility for payments.

“We do not yet have a breakdown of how many have chosen ARC and how many PLC,” USDA spokesman Cullen Schwarz added.

University economists who have been teaching farmers about the complicated new programs say ARC is a big favorite among corn and soybean farmers while PLC will likely be more popular with crops like wheat, sorghum, barley, rice and peanuts.

Covered commodities include barley, canola, chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, rice, safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity.

Late last month the USDA extended the deadline for farmers to update their farm history from Feb. 27 to March 31, matching the time to enroll in a specific subsidy program.

“No announcement yet on whether there will be an extension,” Schwarz said. (Reporting by Christine Stebbins; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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