Implementing the Agriculture Act of 2014 Won't be Easy, Informa's Roger Bernard SaysTue, 04 Feb 2014 17:52:23 CST
Once it is signed into law by the President, implementing the Agriculture Act of 2014 will not be an easy process says Roger Bernard of Informa Economics.
The bill reforms farm programs and ends direct payments and other farm programs. It provides risk management tools that help American farmers and ranchers survive weather disasters and market volatility.
If signed into law by the President, the bill will consolidate 23 existing conservation programs into 13 programs while strengthening tools to protect and conserve land, water and wildlife. By streamlining programs, the farm bill provides added flexibility and ensures conservation programs are working for producers in the most effective and efficient way - an approach supported by nearly 650 conservation organizations from all 50 states.
Bernard says it is going to take some time to implement such a far-reaching piece of legislation.
"I think April would be the very earliest you could see it start because of everything they have to do-not only developing software programs and training the folks out in the county offices to run those software programs so they input the information correctly for farmers, etc., there also has to be a pretty massive education effort done on farmers to get them to understand what are their options and everything else."
He said farmers will really have to work hard to examine their options and determine which programs will work best for their particular operations and circumstances.
The USDA will also have its work cut out for it in writing regulations that will have to go through lengthy approval processes.
"I think the combination of getting the software, getting the regulations side done is really is really going to tax them. And with the changes like we've got in this farm bill, not only will it not start before April, it's going to run for several months. It's going to probably run well into the summer which will be a benefit for the farmer because they're going to have more information on their crop side to be able to make their decision for what's best for their operation."
Bernard said that with the elimination of direct payments, farmers are going to have to weather a "payment hole" ahead.
"There will not be that five billion dollars in direct payments rolling out to farmers in October of 2014. The first payments from this farm bill under the commodity title are not going to come until probably October 2015."
He said farmers will have to plan their cash flow judiciously as a result. He said the old commodity price support loan from the USDA may be beneficial to many producers.
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