The Gardner Agricultural Policy Program (GAPP) in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics (ACE) and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) are partners on this project to create and develop an open-source, web-based farm program analysis tool to assist farmers, academics and policymakers understanding of the programs and policies as Congress debates reauthorization of the omnibus legislation known as a farm bill.

The current farm bill, signed into law in 2014, expires in 2018. For commodity farmers, the two key programs are ARC (Agriculture Risk Coverage) and PLC (Price Loss Coverage). As currently designed, they operate as follows:

  • ARC – triggers payments using revenue (price times yield) benchmarks; begins when actual revenue in a year falls below 86% of the county benchmark (most recent 5 years of national prices and county yields, dropping the high and low of each); payments cannot exceed 10% of the benchmark and are paid on 85% of the base acres for the crop.
    • Potential revisions: increase the guarantee from 86%; increase the payment cap to 15%; revise county average yields used; revise benchmark price calculation.
  • PLC – triggers payments on price movements only; Congress establishes a reference price in statute (e.g., corn at $3.70 per bushel) and when national average prices fall below, a payment on the deficiency is made using program yields and on 85% of base acres for the crop.
    • Revise reference prices (increases or decreases), including use of a percentage of a moving average price history

Congress is working on the reauthorization process for these programs and there is a need for policy analysis for farmers, farm interest groups, policymakers and academics. Additionally, the 2014 Farm Bill provided $3 million in funding for web-based educational tools to explain to farmers the decisions in the bill. This tool can be used to educate farmers on the final policies and programs of this farm bill and including the potential for partnering to compete for funding if it is again provided by Congress.

The final goals for this project are to:

  • Deliver a policy analysis tool that generates program payment estimates at various geographical levels. # Create a web-based dashboard for payment estimate outputs determined by data input and model (developed at #1 above) simulations, including simulations based on user-directed changes to Federal program parameters.
  • Include a dashboard that visualizes options such as mapping payments at county, regional (including Congressional district), state and national levels.