Program signup, Anderson says, “is going to be at the discretion of the farmer, whoever is farming the land — not the landowner. So, that’s something to keep straight in implementing farm bill provisions — decisions the landowner makes versus decisions the farmer makes.

“There will be a one-time signup: You’ll sign up for Price Loss Coverage (PLC), County ARC, or Individual ARC one time for the life of the farm bill, and it is an irrevocable decision.

“We’re told that PLC and ARC are going to be available in 2014, but we’re already two months into 2014, and there’s a lot to be done on this.

“I think the individual ARC program makes every other FSA program that’s ever existed look really, really simple in comparison. Individual ARC is a whole farm program, and revenue benchmarks and calculation of payments are going to be based on all of the commodities on all the farms you have in the state.

“This is going to be a very difficult program to administer,” Anderson says. “Think about what FSA is going to have to do just to calculate your revenue benchmark — they’re going to have to aggregate information across all of your crops and, for a lot of producers, across multiple counties.

“How much precedent do we have for sharing of information between county offices? They’re going to have to get software written, put in place, training done, and ready to go for 2014 — that’s what the law says. Whether they can actually do this is anyone’s guess.”

Price Loss Coverage: One thing to keep in mind, Anderson says, as Mississippi State University Extension and other agencies roll out educational programs on the farm bill, is that “PLC and County ARC are going to be offered on a commodity-by-commodity basis. So, if you have a rice or peanut base, you can sign up for PLC. If you’ve got a corn, soybean, or wheat base, you could sign those up for County ARC.

“I think this will be the decision that will be difficult for many to evaluate on a commodity-by-commodity basis — to decide, in which direction do I go? Do I go PLC or County ARC? In Mississippi, you’re fortunate to have some really strong resources through MSU and various farm agencies to guide you with these decisions.”

Individual ARC covers all commodities, Anderson notes, “So if you take that signup, all your commodities go into that program. That’s a feature that’s going to make this program very unattractive to Mississippi producers, who have very diverse production.”