Starting this month, you can apply for the direct and counter-cyclical Farm Bill payment program. All applications for updates must be received before April 1, 2003.

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

In general, says Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, 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.

Some crops, like those grazed, harvested as silage or hay, can use previous LDPs on record at the county office to establish farm yields.

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

For more details, check with your local Farm Service Agency or on the Web at www.usda.gov/farmbill.