PINE BLUFF, Ark. — Farmers have a one–time–only opportunity, provided by the 2002 farm bill, to update contract base acres and farm program yields used to calculate program payments. Farmers now have five base options to choose from, but one deadline — April 1.

"If farmers don't select a base option by April 1, their local Farm Service Agency offices will select options for them," says Henry English, director of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff's Small Farm Program.

If farmers need help in selecting a base option, they can contact a UAPB Extension associate who will run the Base and Yield Option Analyzer program (computer software developed by Texas A&M) for them, says English. Farmers will need their FSA base options reports and the yield reports.

"If farmers' yields are higher than the county average, they should bring their 1998 to 2001 production information," says English. "This will result in higher payments."

Extension associates are Arlanda Jacobs (870–572–2966) for Lee, Phillips, Arkansas and Monroe counties; Janet Breckenridge (870–265–2608) for Chicot, Ashley and Drew counties; and Carolyn Prowell (870–633–2320) for St. Francis, Woodruff and Crittenden counties.

Farmers in other counties can contact English at 870–575–7246 or 870–575–7226.

Farmers can also contact the Small Farm Program at UAPB for assistance in running the program.

Carol Sanders is a writer/editor for the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences at the University of Arkansas–Pine Bluff (870–575–7238 or sanders_c@uapb.edu).