Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is urging producers to learn about the new Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program before the August sign-up deadline.

Congress created ACRE in the 2008 farm bill to give producers an additional option to help manage the risks associated with farming. Farm Service Agency Administrator Doug Caruso has launched an educational campaign on the ACRE program this week in North Dakota during a series of meetings with farmers, including an event with the North Dakota Farmer's Union.

"The ACRE Program is an innovative risk management tool and I encourage producers to seriously consider whether to adopt this option," said Vilsack.

The ACRE program is a new option for farmers who may have previously participated in FSA's Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program (DCP). The ACRE program is an alternative to the counter-cyclical program. ACRE payments are based on what the producer actually plants, with payments calculated using recent market prices. ACRE payments are triggered when the farm revenue and state revenue — price multiplied by yield — fall below a calculated guarantee for a crop.

The deadline for producers to sign up is Aug. 14, 2009. In the coming weeks, producers should talk with their FSA county office or experts at local Land Grant Universities to learn more about the program. More information, including a program payment calculator, is at http://www.fsa.usda.gov.

Commodities eligible for ACRE payments are wheat, corn, grain sorghum, barley, oats, upland cotton, long-grain rice, medium- and short-grain rice, peanuts, soybeans, sunflower seed, canola, flaxseed, safflower, mustard seed, rapeseed, sesame seed, crambe, dry peas, lentils, small chickpeas and large chickpeas. Producers may elect to participate in ACRE even if they have already accepted advanced payments under DCP.