Did you enroll your farm in the ACRE program for the 2009 crop year? Do you know anyone, or anyone else, who signed up for ACRE? According to the preliminary statistics released by USDA’s Farm Service Agency, FSA offices were not doing “land office” business just before the August 14th deadline.

The Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program was created in the 2008 Farm Bill to help farm owners and operators manage revenue risk and move away from subsidies based entirely on production. The ACRE program was not a guaranteed payment, since revenue loss thresholds, based on price and yield, had to be reached at both the state level and the farm level. Despite the extended sign-up period for ACRE, only 7.7% of eligible farms signed up and they accounted for only 13% of eligible program crop acres.

USDA’s announcement of the enrollment provided little surprise about the location of those signing up for the program. “Of the 22 different crops eligible for enrollment, corn had the highest number of base acres enrolled, followed by wheat and soybeans, and producers mainly planted these three crops. The states with the largest number of base acres enrolled are Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota.” Nationwide, 128,620 farms will be in the program.

Around the Cornbelt, that includes:
IL: 16.71% of farms, 22.98% of base acres
IN: 9.49% of farms, 15.46% of base acres
IA: 11.81% of farms, 16.34% of base acres
KS: 1.61% of farms, 2.82% of base acres
MI: 6.52% of farms, 12.55% of base acres
MN: 6.14% of farms, 10.02% of base acres
MO: 4.39% of farms, 8.07% of base acres
NE: 19.61% of farms, 24.82% of base acres
ND: 10.03% of farms, 15.45% of base acres
OH: 6.28% of farms, 10% of base acres
SD: 18.36% of farms, 26.34% of base acres
WI: 3.46% of farms, 7.16% of base acres

During the weeks and months prior to the sign-up period, nearly all farm management specialists and agricultural economists at Cornbelt Land Grant Universities strongly encouraged farmers to sign up for the program. Many of them who personally owned farmland publically indicated they had enrolled their farmland into the ACRE program. However, many farmers did not follow their lead, and were reluctant to step into the new farm program.
Was farmer reluctance to enroll in the program based on:
1) The complexity of the ACRE formula that would determine a payment?
2) The requirement for a four year commitment to the program without being able to opt out?
3) Revenue-based crop insurance being a better risk management tool?
4) Difficulty in getting absentee land owners to understand and buy into the program?
5) Not getting a payment from the program until 14 months after sign-up?
6) Lack of acceptable records to prove yields?
Your thoughts are welcome and encouraged. Enter your opinion, and do not worry about being identified.

Initial results of the enrollment in the ACRE program have been released by USDA, and less than 8% of farms and less than 13% of eligible acreage was enrolled prior to the August 14 deadline. Cornbelt participation varied widely from nearly 20% of Nebraska farms to less than 2% of Kansas farms. The largest acreage enrolled came from IL, IA, NE, and the Dakotas. Farmer reluctance to participate could be rooted in a wide variety of concerns.

Source: Stu Ellis, University of Illinois