For the first time since the 2005 crop year, the farm bill’s commodity programs have the potential to make significant payments due to low prices and revenue for corn, soybeans and wheat, according to a farm policy expert with Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

While these payments are not a given, if they materialize they could help farmers transition during this period of low crop prices and revenues by the standard of the past eight years, said Carl Zulauf, an agricultural economics professor and farm policy expert in the college.

“The potential for payments underscores the importance of the 2014 farm bill crop program decisions,” Zulauf said.

Zulauf recently launched a website to help farmers make decisions on the farm bill’s crop program decisions. The website offers a number of tools to help farmers make their 2014 farm bill decisions, including policy briefs, links to calculators and video presentations segmented by the three crop program decision that farmers will need to make.

The website aims to focus on the questions producers must consider when making their decisions and offers users a broad perspective on the decisions from Zulauf’s decades of farm policy research. The tools on the resource aim to work in collaboration with existing farm bill decision calculators, helping to place them in perspective, he said.

In his work at Ohio State, Zulauf specializes in commercial agricultural policy and commodity futures and options markets research. He spent most of 1985 on assignment with U.S. Sen. John Glenn’s staff during the writing of the 1985 farm bill.

Zulauf has also testified before Congress on farm policy and wrote a paper that laid out many of the principles that helped guide the development of the Average Crop Revenue Election farm program enacted in the 2008 farm bill and the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program in the 2014 farm bill.

The 2014 crop program decisions include the following: 

  • Program Yield Update — enrollment period: Sept. 29, 2014, to Feb. 27, 2015.
  • Program (Base) Acre Allocation — enrollment period: Sept. 29, 2014, to Feb. 27, 2015.
  • Program Choice — enrollment period: Nov. 17, 2014, to Mar. 31, 2015. 

Of particular interest for farmers and producers, Zulauf recently filmed three presentations for the resource outlining the Yield UpdateBase Acre Allocation and Program Choice decisions. 

The crop program decisions website can be accessed at go.osu.edu/crop_decisions

During December 2014 and January 2015, Zulauf will present on the farm bill crop program decisions during Ohio State’s Agricultural Policy and Outlook Conference Series, which will be held in more than a dozen locations across the state. To access more information on these in-person briefings, visit go.osu.edu/ag_outlook.