Skip to Content

Publication: Surviving the Farm Economy Downturn

by Levi Russell

A new publication entitled “Surviving the Farm Economy Downturn” is now available online free of charge. The publication provides a general farm economy outlook as well as discussions of topics such as risk reduction, cost control, alternative crops, livestock sales during drought, crop insurance, ARC and PLC payment forecasts, stress and suicide, and other issues. Please follow the link below to check out essays on these and other topics:

Information on Livestock Emissions Reporting

A recent court case striking down the agricultural exemption for reporting under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) means that many producers will have to start reporting complicated emissions information in May of this year. Currently, a federal Senate bill is being considered that will make the exemption legal, but congress must act swiftly.

In the event that action by congress fails or is delayed, producers should be aware of the rules and how they will impact their operations. Extension agricultural lawyer Paul Goeringer has a pair of short podcast episodes available that explain the rule. Click below to listen!

Part 1

Part 2

Understanding Your Generic Base Conversion Options With the Seed Cotton Program

by Don Shurley and Adam N. Rabinowitz

We have developed a third publication in a series of fact sheets on the new seed cotton program. Included in this document is a little history of what happened with the 2014 farm bill that led to the development of the seed cotton program.  We provide an example of the decision process and identify things to think about when making the decision.

The PDF can be downloaded here.

MYA Prices and Calculating Payments with the Seed Cotton PLC

by Don Shurley and Adam N. Rabinowitz

This post presents a second fact sheet in a series of publications that briefly explain the basic workings of the new seed cotton program.

Effective with the 2018 crop, “seed cotton” is now a covered commodity under Title I of the 2014 farm bill and eligible for PLC (Price Loss Coverage) payments. For purposes of the legislation, “seed cotton” is unginned upland cotton—a combination of both cotton (lint) and cottonseed.

The linked document discusses:

  • Reference price and payments,
  • Marketing year average prices and how to calculate them,
  • What would have been the past 10 years had the seed cotton program been in place,
  • Payment yields, and
  • A payment calculator

Click on this link to access the factsheet.


Changes to the Dairy Margin Protection Program in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018

by Levi A. Russell


The big questions left on the table back in February when the Bipartisan Budget Act was passed have been answered. The information below in the original post is still correct, but I wanted to fill in the gaps here.

Re-enrollment for 2018 CAT-level and buy-up coverage began on April 9th 2018 and ends on June 1st 2018. All outstanding balances for 2017 and prior years must be paid in full before a dairy operation can be approved for 2018 coverage.

Coverage elections made for 2018 under the re-enrollment will be effective retroactive to January 1st 2018 for eligible dairy operations.

All dairy operations that want to participate in MPP in 2018 must sign up during the re-enrollment period.

During the 2018 re-enrollment period only, producers in dairy operations with an active policy under LGM-Dairy who have target marketings insured during months in 2018, will be allowed to register for 2018 coverage under MPP-Dairy while still meting the contractual requirements for the LGM-Dairy contract. Producers may participate in either LGM-Dairy or MPP-Dairy, but not both.

Example: A producer purchases LGM-Dairy in November 2017 with target marketings through April 2018. Coverage under LGM-Dairy will conclude at the end of April 2018, and coverage under MPP-Dairy may begin May 2018. Premiums for 2018 will be prorated based on when LGM-Dairy coverage ends and MPP-Dairy coverage begins for 2018.

Dairy economists at have a longer fact sheet with several examples of coverage benefits calculated based on projections done in February 2018.

The MPP decision tool on their site has also been updated with the latest policy information, so you can calculated projected indemnities for 2018.

For more information about the changes and enrollment, contact your local county agent or FSA office.


The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 made some significant changes to the Margin Protection Program for dairy producers. These changes apply beginning with the 2018 calendar year and make the program more producer-friendly and substantially decrease premiums for Tier I coverage. The specific changes are as follows:

-Dairy-MPP now operates on a monthly basis. Feed costs, milk prices, the margin, and payments are all calculated or paid monthly. There are no additional changes to any of the formulas to compute these costs, prices, margins, and payments.

-The 2018 election year is extended by at least 90 days after the enactment of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (February 9, 2018)

-Limited resource, beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers are exempt from the administrative fee associated with Dairy-MPP

-The base production history is maintained

-Tier I premiums now apply to the first 5,000,000 pounds of production instead of the previous 4,000,000. Tier II covers production in excess of 5,000,000 pounds

-Premiums for Tier II are unchanged. Premiums for Tier 1 are lowered as follows:

Coverage Level Old Premium New Premium
$4.00 None None
$4.50 $0.010 None
$5.00 $0.025 None
$5.50 $0.040 $0.009
$6.00 $0.055 $0.016
$6.50 $0.090 $0.040
$7.00 $0.217 $0.063
$7.50 $0.300 $0.087
$8.00 $0.475 $0.142

Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018

7 USC Chapter 115, Subchapter III, Part A

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018: What Farmers and Landowners Need to Know about Cotton and Generic Base

by Don Shurley and Adam N. Rabinowitz

On the morning of February 9, 2018, the U.S. Congress passed budget legislation that included the designation of seed cotton as a covered commodity under the 2014 farm bill. The President has signed this legislation and it has become law. The document linked below highlights the critical components about the new cotton program and treatment of Generic Base.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018

More information, including a decision aid, will be available soon at

2017 Tax Reform Law and Agriculture

by Levi Russell

Last year an overhaul of the tax code was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. We thought we would put together a resource page on the aspects of the law that will affect agricultural producers.

First, a rather lengthy article covering all aspects of the new law that will affect agricultural producers. This piece is written by Roger McEowen, an agricultural tax lawyer in Kansas. I have confirmed with the author that the information in this article is up to date.

Second is a post by another agricultural lawyer focusing primarily on the estate tax changes.

Finally, a 17 minute radio interview on major tax and agricultural law issues for the new year.

Southern Outlook Conference Presentations Available

by Levi Russell

Last week in Atlanta Extension economists, lenders, and ag media met in Atlanta to discuss the market and policy outlook for agricultural commodities in the Southeast in the coming year. UGA economists presented the outlook for peanuts, timber, turfgrass, the green industry, cotton, poultry, and hogs. All presentations are available here. Feel free to contact us with questions about the presentations.

Planted Acres vs Base Acres

by Adam Rabinowitz

There have been some comments from policymakers regarding the upcoming farm bill and the debate between planted acres and base acres.  Here is an explanation as to why base acres have been used and the potential impact of using planted acres.

The 2014 Farm Bill contains provisions for Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) commodity programs that are tied to a “base acreage” for which to compute payments. Base acres for a particular Farm Service Agency (FSA) farm depend on the past decisions by the farm to reflect either 1991-1995, 1998-2001, or 2009-2012 planted acres. Regardless of the specific base acreage determination, the common point among the commodity programs and farms is that base acreage is determined on historical planted acreage and not current year planted acreage. There are two main concerns over computing safety net program payments on current planted acres.

  1. Payments made on current planted acres means that newly planted acres are eligible for payments. This has the potential to distort market prices because planting decisions will be directly impacted by the eligibility for program payments. As planted acres increase, the market price will decrease, resulting in increased program payments, which may continue to perpetuate into a further increase in acreage, payments, etc.
  2. World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements contain limits on trade-distorting domestic support. When government safety net payments are tied to planted acres they would likely be reported as product specific crop commodity program payments. Product specific payments are viewed as potentially trade-distorting and thus subject to WTO limits.

Historical base acres have thus been used to mitigate the potential negative market distortion from government programs and potential violation of trade agreements. By determining safety net program payments on historical acreage, there is little (if any) incentive to make planting decisions based on the ability to receive government payments. With current safety net payments being issued in October of the following year after harvest, there is an even greater disconnect between planting decisions and government payments. Furthermore, ensuring that agricultural commodities maintain compliance with trade agreements is critical for continued expansion of demand and access to foreign markets for U.S. farmers.