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Signing Up For The Best Option: ARC vs. PLC

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In a partnership with local USDA Farm Service Agencies, MSU Extension has bene hosting a series of free meetings across the state for growers to make the most out of the commodity programs of the 2018 farm bill.

With the latest farm bill, there are now three programs you can enroll in: Price Loss Coverage (PLC), Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) County or ARC Individual.

When deciding which three would be best for your operation, Professor Jim Hilker of Michigan State University says it depends if you’re growing corn, soybeans or wheat.

“The most common ones are ARC County or PLC,” he said. “You put in numbers—we have a calculator to help you that spits out an answer which you think is best over the next two years.”

When you go to your local FSA office to sign up, growers sign up for 2019 and 2020 at the same time. Hilker says signing up this time is going to be a little bit different than signing up in the future.

“We know a lot about what’s already happening in 2019,” he said. “We won’t in the future. We know a lot of county yields are down. If you think in your particular county that the yields are down 20 percent or more, it’s probably going to be better than PLC. If you think it’s going to go down 10 to 15 percent, you’ll probably get a bigger PLC payment next year.”

Before you go to your local FSA office to sign up, Hilker has a couple pieces of information to bring with you before the deadline on March 15.

“One, you need to look at your yields from 2013-2017, do some calculations this model will help you with, to see whether you can improve the payment yield that you get paid on,” said Hilker. “The other think is you have to go through this thought process of which one would be better in your particular county.”

If you don’t use the ARC vs. PLC Calculator available on MSU Extension’s website, Hilker does have a suggestion on what you should do for wheat, soybeans and corn.

“Sign up for PLC wheat, sign up for ARC County soybeans,” he said. “If you think your county corn yields are down over 20 percent, you sign up for ARC County. If you think it’s down 15 percent, you sign u for PLC. I don’t like giving that blanket answer, but it’s better than doing nothing. This is money on the table and there’s not a lot of money available in agriculture. You need to do due diligence.”

The last of the events wraps up January 27 in Calhoun County. For more information on dates and locations, click here.