January - March 2003
Ron Hook , farm management field specialist
The 2002 Farm Bill was signed by the President in May 2002 to be effective on crops that year. Because the new legislation was complicated, farmers were faced with the decision of how to best sign-up for this new program. General information meetings were held to give farmers an idea of what the program was about, however, these meetings did not give them information specific to individual operations. Each Farm Service Agency (FSA) farm number could result in a different decision by the producer.
I began to analyze farm numbers for individual producers and their operations. These sessions began in September and ended shortly after the FSA April 1 deadline for a base-yield choice.
Each individual farm bill analysis provided a printout of the results from either the Texas A& M base and yield analyzer or the Iowa State Extension farm bill analyzer for each farm number. These printouts provided expected payments under each of the five options available with the given price assumptions. As part of this process each county staff would line up client appointments where I would spend the needed time in that county completing these analyses. Six of my eleven counties participated in this analysis process. I was able to complete analyses for 389 individuals with 652 farm numbers.
In order to evaluate the impact of this program, surveys were mailed out to 349 of the individuals involved in the analyses and 222 were returned. This outstanding return rate of 64% is one indication of the value placed on this service. The respondents were asked to rate their understanding of the decision they faced about signing up for the 2002 farm bill before they were assisted. The average response was an understanding of 4.3 out of a 10-point scale. (10 meaning “understanding the decision very well.”) Then when asked about their understanding after being assisted, the average response was an understanding of 8.6.
According to the survey, 104,345 acres were covered by these analyses. The average annual value per acre estimated by respondents was $64.93, which puts a total value on the project of $6,775,601.
Ninety-four percent indicated that the session lessened their anxiety about signing up for the program. And nearly 99% of the respondents said that they would recommend this program to others.
Comments made by survey respondents:
It really helped to know what to do when you went to the FSA office to sign up. The answer I got from Ron was just what they came up with when I signed up on the farm program. This is a good deal!
It saved me many hours and a lot of frustration by being able to bring my landlords in, so we all understood it at once.
I appreciated the time that Ron spent with me very much. It made my decision much easier.
I really appreciate all the services of ISU Extension Service. Extension is a great resource for all agricultural questions that come up—crops, livestock, farm programs, finances. All is very much appreciated. Thank you!
I was very grateful to have Ron to help me analyze this important decision. He was easy to get in contact with and very generous with his time.
I enjoyed working with Ron Hook. He did an excellent job of explaining my options.
This was a most practical service, offered in a timely manner. Ron presents material at my level of understanding.
After Ron's report of the difference in one program or another I was able to decide which way to sign up and why I wanted to do it that way. Thank you.
Very worthwhile. Ron was very pleasant to work with. Rate him AAA+++.
Ron explained it well, because he knew what he was doing. I really enjoyed my time with him. He made me feel I would make the right decision.
Keep up the good work! This was certainly an example of the importance and need for the ongoing work of Iowa State Extension! Never give up trying to help the family farm.
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July 7, 2006
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