After several delays, sign-up for the Average Crop Revenue Election program begins Monday, Apr. 27, 2009. Farmers will have the chance to enroll in the new revenue-based program that was established by the 2008 Farm Bill or continue with the direct and counter-cyclical program.
The big question is how many farmers will elect to sign up for the ACRE program. According to Ohio State University agricultural economist Carl Zulauf, there's really no way to know.
"Farmers have not had a choice over programs; the most recent situation where you could argue that farmers had a choice over farm programs was the 1960s," Zulauf said. "So we really don't have a very good understanding about how farmers approach these decisions; what variables they're really looking at. Those make it very difficult therefore how they are going to make their decision."
The sign-up period for ACRE runs until Aug. 14. American Farm Bureau Federation Bob Stallman says in talks he's had with farmers he expects most farmers to wait as late as they can before making a decision so they'll have more information about future price trends, which plays into which election would provide the most benefits.
"I think it's an open question right now is just how much participation there is going to be," Stallman said. "Initially, just looking at the numbers and looking at some of the analysis that some universities have run, it looks like there could be fairly good participation in that program, but we'll have to wait and see."