The USDA finally announced that it would award $6 million for Farm Bill education. This is something that everyone in the ag policy world has been waiting to hear. As suspected a few mid-western schools (Illinois and Missouri) and one southern school (Texas A&M) were selected. Half of the money will go to these schools for them to build online education tools that farmers can use in to help decide on what program they should enroll in, PLC or ARC. The other half of the money will be distributed to state cooperative extension services for outreach efforts. Read more here and here.
USDA FSA also released a timeline for implementation of the Farm Bill. This too has been something we have been waiting on for a while. The basic timeline is as follows: Mid-summer – producers receive letters notifying them of current bases and yields from 09-12 crop years. Late summer – Online decision tools become available. Fall – NAP online tools become available. Winter – Producers make one time decision to enroll in ARC/PLC.
Regarding the online decision tools. I suspect (and recommend) that most folks in Georgia and neighboring states will use the tool available through Texas A&M. As a grad student I saw first hand how these tools are developed and I feel very confident that the tool put out by TAMU will be extremely useful to Georgia cotton farmers.