Farm Bill Frequently Asked Questions: Yield Update

Farm Bill Frequently Asked Questions: Yield Update

Jan. 20, 2015

Over the past few months, the Nebraska Extension Farm Bill education team has been on the road talking with producers about the 2014 Farm Bill. This is one of a series of articles clarifying some of the common questions asked at these meetings. This article will discuss updating yields.

Farmland owners will have the opportunity to update program payment yields for each covered commodity from their current counter cyclical (CC) yields. Yields can be updated to 90% of the farm's 2008-12 average yield per planted acre for each crop, excluding any year in which the covered commodity was not planted. The deadline to update yields is Feb. 27, 2015. These updated yields will be called "PLC yields."

Q: Where can I find my farm's current CC yield? Where can I find my farm's current base acres?
A: A farm's current CC yield can be found on the letter sent by USDA Farm Service Agency in early August. You can also call your local FSA office and get a copy of your farm's FSA 156-EZ form that will outline this information.

Q: Who makes the decision to update a farm's yield? 
A: The owner of the land makes the decision to update the yield. Tenants can submit the base reallocation and yield update decision on behalf of the landowner if the landowner has granted them signature authority on an FSA power-of-attorney form.

Q: I have multiple farms. If I update the payment yields on one farm number do I have to do it for all farm numbers?
A: No, you can update the yield on one farm for one or more crops, without updating the yield on other farms. 

Q: If I want to update my yield, must I do so for all my crops?
A: No, you do not have to update all of the crop yields on a farm. The yield update is a crop-by-crop decision.

Q: Where can I find the actual production for my farm to update the yield? 
A: The easiest place to get yield information is from your crop insurance agent. Your crop insurance print out will show RMA production data, by tract of land. All of the tracts will need to be aggregated together by FSA farm number in order to update the yield.

It is important that you use RMA production data, not APH yield. Your APH yield may incorporate several modifications to your actual production, including

  • T-yields when no production history is available,
  • "cup" yields which limit yield losses in disaster years, and
  • trend adjustments which aim to make yields in past years to reflect current yield potential. 

Your insurance company may report this yield as "rate," "unadjusted," or "raw" APH, or a "preliminary yield" which reflects the actual history before any of the above adjustments.  Contact your crop insurance agent if you are unsure of which yield value to use.

One additional item to note is that crop insurance documentation is acceptable evidence in the event you are later chosen for a spot check — there is no further audit required.

Q: I am reallocating my base to include a covered commodity that was not previously on my farm. Can I establish that payment yield for this crop? 
A: Yes, FSA will establish an initial PLC payment yield for the crop, and you will then have an opportunity to update that yield by certifying actual production for the years the crop was planted.

Q: If I have a crop that was reported as "Prevent Planted," how is that handled when updating base?
A: A year that was "prevent planted" may be included in the history for base reallocation if the PP was approved by FSA.  However, prevent planted years are not averaged into the yield history and not included in the yield update decision.

Q: What if I do not have or cannot find the actual production history for a farm? 
A: If no production data is available for a farm, for whatever reason, USDA will input a "substitute yield." The substitute yield will be equal to 75% of the (2008-2012) county average yield that the farm is administered out of, as reported by USDA NASS.  The top left hand corner of your FSA 156-EZ form will denote which county FSA office the farm is administered out of.  In order to have the substitute yield applied, you should certify to a "zero" yield for that year.

If you have base acres for a commodity that you have not planted, you will maintain the current CC yield.

Q: What if my farm had a bad year with a low yield?
A: If the yield reported by the landowner is below the "substitute yield," the substitute yield will replace the low value.  The substitute yield will be equal to 75% of the (2008-2012) county average yield that the farm is administered out of, as reported by USDA NASS.  The top left hand corner of your FSA 156-EZ form will denote which county FSA office is the "administrative county."

Q: Should I update my yield? 
A: Although updating yield will only affect payments under the Price Loss Coverage program, it is possible that these yields may be carried forward and utilized for future farm program purposes. If your updated yield is higher than your current CC yield, updating would result in a higher PLC payment. Nebraska Extension suggests that the yield be updated for all farms, regardless of the commodity program a producer elects for the farm. Yields cannot be updated for crops that do not maintain base following the reallocation decision.

Jessica Johnson, Jim Jansen, and Monte Vandeveer
Nebraska Extension Educators