The 2002 Farm Bill provides for payments to be made to eligible producers of covered commodities and peanuts for 2002 and 2003 crops. Direct and counter-cyclical payment program signup begins October 1, 2002. Farm operators will be required to signup at the FSA County Office where their farm records are kept. Covered commodities eligible for both direct and count-cyclical payments include wheat, corn, sorghum, barley, oats, upland cotton, rice, soybeans, sunflower seeds, canola, flaxseed, mustard, safflower, rapeseed and peanuts. USDA will begin making payments as soon as possible after the farm is enrolled and eligible payees meet eligibility requirements. Sign-up for the 2002 and 2003 counter-cyclical program ends June 2, 2003.

Direct payments are made to producers of covered commodities plus peanuts with established crop bases and yields; producers may also receive counter-cyclical payments when the effective prices are less than the target prices set in the 2002 Farm Bill. The effective price is equal to the higher of average loan rate or national average market price.

However, landowners will be required to select a base and yield option before the farm operator can enroll the farm. Landowners were notified and have been asked to verify and update records on planted and prevented planted acres filed with USDA's Farm Service Agency(FSA). Acreage History Reports on file with FSA were recently mailed to producers. If the information is incorrect, landowners must provide verifiable documentation such as seed receipts, producer records or crop insurance records as evidence for the years 1998 through 2001 by August 31, 2002.

FSA is also giving landowners the option to update yield data. FSA is mailing the Updated Yields Report which provides the farm's minimum crops yields based on 75% of USDA's Nation Agricultural Statistics Service county average yield. In most cases, this figure will be the lowest possible crop payment yield attributed to the farm. Farm landowners and operators will also receive a second mailing that will contain a Base Options Report that computes the farm base options established by the acreage reported to FSA. The 2002-07 base options include: (1) using the farm's 2002 production flexibility contract acres as the bases acres; (2) adding oilseeds to the 2002 contract acres; and (3) using the farm's 1998-01 planted acres.

USDA will soon make available to producers a Web-based tool to help them decide on base and yield options. A news release with more information on this tool will be issued soon.

Producers who have questions should contact the Gilmer-Calhoun County FSA Office at 201 E. Main St., Rm. 122, Glenville, telephone 304-462-7171 or 1-800-284-4960. More information about the 2002 Farm Bill issues is also available at http://www.usda.gov/farmbill.

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