The production evidence required for the updates has become a source of confusion following some conflicting announcements by USDA officials in recent days. Many farmers are considering yield updates in advance of signup for the new farm bill, which is scheduled to begin at county Farm Service Agency offices Oct. 1.

“The announcement today should help clear up some of the confusion about what information will be needed to establish yields,” Veneman said in a press briefing. “This is another important step in the 2002 Farm Bill implementation process as we move forward to make programs available for producers.”

Under the new farm law, eligible producers have the option to update their farm base acres yields. Landowners who elect to update their base acres also may update their yields for counter-cyclical payments. Oilseed producers may establish a yield for direct and counter-cyclical payments.

In general, producers who wish to establish or update yields must have actual verifiable production evidence such as weight tickets, loan deficiency payments (LDPs), crop insurance appraisals or sales records. This approach to verification will be used by the vast majority of producers.

Some crops, however, are harvested or utilized in a manner that does not result in tangible records of measurable production, Veneman noted. This includes crops that were grazed, harvested as silage or hay or fed on the farm.

In these situations, previous LDPs on record at the county office may be used to establish farm yields. When LDPs are not available, but crop insurance records or other FSA records indicate the crop was grazed, harvested as silage or hay or fed on the farm, then FSA may assign a yield based on the actual grain yield for three similar farms. In the case when producers cannot meet any of these requirements, or they have experienced abnormally low yields, then 75 percent of the county average yield will be used as specified in the new law.

Producers selecting the yield update option will need form FSA-658P (Producer's Record of Production) to list the sources of the production evidence. The actual documentation does not have to be produced at the time the option is selected. However, the production evidence will have to be provided at a subsequent time if required under spot-check procedures.

Farm Service Agency Service Centers will begin accepting yield updates in mid-September. On Oct. 1, producers can apply for the direct and counter-cyclical payment program. All applications for updates must be received before April 1, 2003.

Producers who reported yields for crop insurance purposes must report the same yields for the direct and counter-cyclical program. They do not have to provide the FSA Service Center with production evidence at time of sign-up but would subsequently if subject to a spot-check.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com