Enrollment for the 2007 Direct and Counter-cyclical Payment Program began Oct. 1 and continues until June 1, 2007. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns encouraged farmers to sign up for the program through the online DCP sign-up service.

“Producers will find the Internet-based DCP sign-up service convenient and very user friendly,” said Johanns. “The service is an example of the strides USDA is taking to make its programs more accessible, and I encourage producers with Internet access to use the system.”

Following the June 1, 2007, deadline, USDA will accept late applications through Sept. 30, 2007, with a $100 late fee. While DCP participants must sign DCP contracts annually, producers can choose not to participate in the program in any given year.

Producers can visit any USDA Service Center or their administratively assigned centers, to complete their 2007 DCP contracts. Additionally, sign-up can be done online, allowing producers to choose payment options, assign crop shares and sign and submit contracts from any computer with Internet access. DCP participants can view and print submitted contract options at any time.

The electronic DCP (eDCP) service saves producers time, reduces paperwork and speeds up contract processing at USDA Farm Service Agency offices. It is available to all producers who are eligible to participate in DCP and who obtain eAuthentication accounts. The service has strict security measures to protect participants’ private information. Only authorized federal employees have access to information producers submit electronically.

To access the service, producers must have an active USDA eAuthentication Level 2 account, which requires filling out an online registration form at http://www.eauth.egov.usda.gov followed by a visit to a local USDA Service Center for identity verification.

USDA computes DCP payments using base acres and payment yields established for each farm. Producers receive direct payments at rates established by statute regardless of market prices. For 2007, eligible producers may request to receive direct advance payments based on 22 percent of the direct payment rate for each commodity associated with the farm. USDA will issue DCP direct advance payments beginning Dec. 1.

Counter-cyclical payment rates vary depending on market prices. Counter-cyclical payments are issued only when the effective price (which takes into account the direct payment rate, market price and loan rate) for a commodity is below its target price. In more than four years since the 2002 farm bill authorized DCP, USDA has issued approximately $30 billion in DCP payments to America’s agricultural producers.