It wasn’t long ago that discussion about government spending on agriculture was all about crop insurance and the ARC and PLC programs. That wasn’t the case in 2020.
For the past several years, farmers instead saw large payments coming from the Market Facilitation Program to offset trade losses and from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The MFP and the CFAP were not items that came through the farm bill. Instead, they were implemented by the USDA and pumped large amounts of money into the farm community, dwarfing the risk management programs that were part of the last farm bill.
“There were huge numbers,” says Alejandro Plastina, economist at Iowa State University.
But with those programs likely disappearing, farmers may want to take a look at the Agriculture Risk Coverage–County (ARC-CO) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs this winter.
Producers have until March 15 to sign up for those programs for the 2021 crop year, and they can make changes between the two before that deadline.
The last time farmers had to make that choice, Plastina says, PLC looked like the better option. He says current price levels indicate that farmers in Iowa would be unlikely to get a payment on their 2021 crop in the PLC program, but they might get a payment in the ARC-CO program.
Of course, all that could change. The economic situation now is different because of higher commodity prices this fall.
There are calculators to help with the decisions available online through universities, such as one offered by Iowa State at its Ag Decision Maker website.