Ag Profitability

January - March 2003

Kelvin Leibold , farm management field specialist

The US Department of Agriculture was required to implement a new farm program, The Farm Security Act of 2002, the most complex program in the history of the agency. Impacting almost every farm unit in the country, the program will provide over $10 billion per year in payments. Producers needed a tremendous amount of education to understand how the program will work.

I held 28 meetings in cooperation with the county extension directors and the county farm service agencies reaching over 2,600 people. In addition, I worked with two of our farm assist associates. Within a two-week period the associates provided individual assistance to 300 farm units by helping them decide which option was best for their farm operation. I also provided assistance to over 75 operations by reviewing the numbers on their farms to provide guidance on the best option. Extension also provided spreadsheets, both on the Web and disk, to help producers calculate their own numbers.

Extension was able to meet a critical educational need with a very short time. With the average farm in Iowa being around 500 acres and reaching over 2,600 producers the benefits of our work have impacted over 1.3 million acres. The typical program payments run from $15 to $30 per acre. These producers will receive $20 million dollars in payments each year, easily totaling $100 million of benefits over the life of the program. Extension was able to play a critical role in educating producers to maximize the benefits of enrolling in the farm program.

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