In a press release issued by USDA, the secretary said sign-ups are on schedule nationwide with 79 percent of the DCP contracts approved as of May 29. Also as of May 29, local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices have processed DCP base and yield elections for 98 percent of eligible farms.

“FSA is focused on obtaining owners’ signatures for the remaining 2 percent of farms that were enrolled on a register as desiring to signup for the direct and counter-cyclical payments,” she said.

Regulations prescribe a $100 late fee for sign up after June 2, 2003. Producers choosing to sign up for DCP are encouraged to contact their local FSA office prior to the June 2 deadline to avoid a late fee. Producers will not be able to sign up for 2002-2003 DCP payments after Sept. 30, 2003.

USDA established a register in the local FSA offices that, due to extremely heavy workloads, were unable to meet with all farm owners who requested an appointment by April 1, the base and yield election deadline.

The use of a register ensured that all owners had an opportunity to select the base and yield option most beneficial for their farm.

On April 7, FSA offices began updating farms for owners who did not make base and yield elections by April 1, or who did not complete all the necessary paperwork with their FSA office. As provided in the 2002 farm bill, bases for these owners are equal to the 2002 Production Flexibility Contract acreage on a farm plus eligible oilseed acres.

USDA has made available online a table listing numerical results of farm owners’ base and yield option elections by state and county. The table, called “National Base and Yield Option Election Report,” is located on the FSA Web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/farmbill. The table will be updated as FSA offices finish processing the final 2 percent of owner elections.

Farm owners, or their designees, were provided a one-time opportunity from Oct. 1, 2002, to April 1, 2003, to choose from five options in determining DCP base acres. Farm owners who chose to update their base acres also had a one-time opportunity to partially update their counter-cyclical payment yields.

As of May 28, 2,088,425 farm owners had selected their base and yield options. Of this total, 462,203 owners, or 22 percent, elected to retain their 2002 PFC acreage to establish DCP base acres. Another 565,213 owners, or 27 percent, elected to retain their 2002 PFC acreage and add oilseed history. Another 771,255 owners, or 37 percent, updated all of their base acres using the farm’s acreage history from 1998-2001.

Only owners who updated their bases had the option to update their yields using their 1998-2001 yield history. Of the 771,255 owners who had this option, 75 percent elected to update their yields. Lastly, 289,754 owners, or 14 percent, did not select any option and, as required by statute, their farms were defaulted to their 2002 PFC acreage plus oilseed history.

USDA also announced that issuance of the second counter-cyclical program payments for 2002-crop of peanuts, rice and upland cotton began as scheduled in February 2003 and are now complete.

The 2002 farm bill provides for two advance counter-cyclical payments, one in October and one in February, and a final payment after close of the marketing year for each affected crop. Final 2002-crop counter-cyclical payments for peanuts, rice and upland cotton will begin in October 2003.

Counter-cyclical payments for 2002 for wheat, corn, grain sorghum, barley, oats, soybean and other oilseeds are not anticipated because the projected 2002 effective prices are expected to exceed the respective target prices.

Final direct payments for 2003-crops of barley, oats, wheat, corn, grain sorghum, soybeans, peanuts, rice, upland cotton and other oilseeds will begin in October 2003.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com