Monday, August 11, 2008

Farm Constitution Rears Its Head

The farm bill included a 10-acres base provision--no payments to "farms" with a base for the crop of under 10 acres. Now people are waking up to the implications and complexities. Via Keith Good (who's always good) the Lancaster FArming site reports on concerns of the PA Farm Bureau:

"PFB believes that the original intent of the measure was to allow farms with 10 or fewer base acres to be aggregated or combined with any farm or farms with base acres — whether owned or rented — to exceed 10 acres.

But according to Pallman [PA FSA head], the law is clear that the only way farm base acreages can be consolidated is through land purchase."

One complication, with which I became familiar in the early 1980's, is a "farm" is a "farm" is a "farm". So if disaster provisions are keyed to losses (on a farm) of production due to a natural disaster or the new ACRE program is keyed to expected revenue (on a farm), FSA has, in the past, maintained only one definition of a farm. So in Pennsylvania where farms originally were small, and operators are renting them from their owners (who may be the spouse, children, or descendants of the original farmer), if FSA treats each ownership tract as a separate farm, it increases the likelihood of eligibility for disaster payments. But it can make participating in other programs more difficult, as the acreage conservation reserve in the 1980's or the payment program now.

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