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“It’s still early in the game for the new farm bill, and a lot of regulations will have to be written and a lot of work will have to be done for implementation,” says John Anderson, deputy chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, who discussed the legislation at the annual Producer Advisory Council conference attended by farmers from across north Mississippi. "You need to be familiarizing yourself with decisions that will have to be made,” he says.
JOHN ANDERSON, left, deputy senior economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, discussed provisions of the new farm bill at the annual meeting of the North Mississippi Producer Advisory Council. With him, from left, are Angus Catchot, Mississippi State University Extension entomology professor; Trent Irby, MSU assistant Extension professor of plant and soil sciences; and Jay Phelps, consultant, Pontotoc, Miss.
Insurance for deductible
Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) is an area-based program, he says, “that essentially allows you to insure your revenue protection coverage insurance deductible.
“If you’re buying 65 percent revenue protection coverage, that leaves you with a 35 percent deductible. SCO will allow you to cover part of that deductible, so you’ll have a higher level of coverage.
“You’re not covering that deductible with individual insurance based on your individual farm experience — rather, it’s going to be an area-based policy. So whether you get an indemnity or not will depend what happens at the county level. But it should provide some additional measure of support.
“It won’t be available until 2015, and the premium will be subsidized at 65 percent. I think there’s going to be a lot of interest in this program and that there will be a big effort by RMA to get this program out and try and have a good experience with it.”
SCO won’t be available to those who enroll in ARC or STAX, Anderson points out. “STAX will be available only for cotton, and will be a closely watched program in Mississippi. It’s also an area-based program that will cover between 70 percent and 90 percent of expected county revenue.
“You can buy it like SCO, in conjunction with an underlying individual policy, or as a standalone policy. This is new — we don’t have any experience with it — and we’ll have a lot to learn over the next couple of years.”
A fairly immediate priority for USDA, Anderson says, is reauthorization of the Livestock Forage Disaster Program and the Tree Assistance Program, which were outgrowths of the old SURE (Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments) program, which was part of a suite of disaster programs “mostly centered on livestock, forage, and nursery-type crops (not for tree farms, but things like cherries, apples, other fruit trees, and ornamentals, like nursery stock).
“These have been reauthorized and as I understand it, will be retroactive. They will be the first programs USDA implements, with an announcement of rollout expected soon.
“These programs may not be that big a deal in this part of the country, but in South Dakota and other areas where they’ve had thousands of cattle deaths this winter, a lot of livestock producers are in dire circumstances, and I can assure you it’s a huge deal for them. I think it will be a real priority for USDA.”