Making a Decision on the Farm Bill: One Farmer’s Reactions in the Delta

We are warming up and drying out quickly here in the Delta. We’ve been in the 60s this week — just warm enough for the mosquitos to come out. I just had to run up to Dulaney’s and pick up some planter attachments and there were planters in the field doing prep work.

Everybody’s already gearing up for planting. We usually shoot for the first couple weeks of March to get out there, depending on the temperature and forecast and all that.

Over the winter, we’ve all come to realize how quickly you forgot how low corn prices hurt. Everybody down here is really just — I wouldn’t say they’re in shock, but, normally this time of year, the cropping plan we’ve been working on for the last three months is set. But I think we finally finalized (or at least have a really good idea) as of just two weeks ago. Every day it’s market-dictated of whether you’re switching this or switching that. So everyone’s just really not sure what to do in what they’re planting — hell, peanuts have even come back a little.

Understanding the Farm Bill

But the big thing that’s up in the air is the Farm Bill and deciding between ARC and PLC. The deadline is February 28. All of a sudden, everyone has said, “Oh crap, we have to make a decision in the next two weeks,” and nobody —understands it.

For example, you got your insurance guy advising you to do one thing that works best for him (and nobody seems to grasp that your private insurance doesn’t have anything to do with this). And you’ve got a few good agents out there that are trying to guide you based on your yields and your history.

People are looking a lot to outside sources to help them make the decision. Michigan State is a real good tool to get advice on this stuff. Some people are using their accountants just to crunch numbers. Texas A&M has a really good program that lets you pull in numbers and see what works. But what worked this year, is it going to work next year?

I don’t know what I’m going to do. Looking at prices, it looks to me like the ARC option looks better. But then with my yields on some farms, the other option looks better. I don’t know how in the world we’re going to figure it out. I just wish someone would tell me so I can go play in the dirt.