The Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program is being implemented by USDA for the 2009 crop year, as part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (the new farm bill). Beginning in 2009, eligible farm operators will have the option to enroll in the new ACRE program, as an alternative to the current counter-cyclical payment (CCP) program that was initiated in 2003 as part of the last farm bill. The ACRE Program will offer the potential of revenue-based payments, based on yield and price, as compared to current price-only CCP calculations. The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has now released most of the official rules and regulations for the new ACRE program. The ACRE program information is available at County FSA offices and on the USDA FSA web site (listed below).

Signup for the new ACRE program will start April 27 at county FSA offices, and will continue until Aug. 14, 2009. Producers may sign up for the 2009 direct and counter-cyclical payment (DCP) farm program at any time at their county FSA office and wait until a later date to decide on enrollment in the ACRE program. Producers who have already enrolled in the DCP program may now sign-up for the ACRE program starting April 27 until Aug. 14, 2009. Given that USDA has not yet finalized how farm-level yield guarantees will be determined, and the fact that final 2009 price guarantees will not be finalized until Oct. 1, 2009, there is no hurry to enroll in the ACRE program right on or after April 27. It may be best to wait to enroll in the ACRE program after all details are finalized. However, producers are encouraged to enroll now in the 2009 DCP farm program at county FSA offices and delay only the ACRE program decision until later.

Once producers are enrolled in the DCP program for 2009, they will be eligible to receive an advance payment 22% of their total DCP direct payment. Any adjustments in the direct payment amount due to enrollment in the ACRE program will occur on the final direct payment in October 2009. All direct payments will be reduced by 20% on farms that are enrolled in the ACRE program.

ACRE Program Resources
One of the big decisions that producers will need to make in 2009 is whether or not to enroll in the ACRE program by Aug. 14, 2009. Even though FSA offices have just received the final details for the ACRE program, enough information and calculations are known regarding the ACRE program for producers to begin analyzing potential participation in ACRE. Following is information that may be useful as you evaluate the ACRE decision for 2009 on your farms:

To receive copies of this ACRE program information, contact Kent Thiesse via e-mail: kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com

Useful ACRE Web Sites:

Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.