Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that producers can elect and enroll in the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program beginning April 27, 2009. ACRE is a provision of the 2008 farm bill.

ACRE has become a hot topic since it was included in the 2008 farm bill passed by Congress last June. Although many growers have said they may not participate in the program, interest has been high in what it would entail once USDA announced the program rules.

“The Average Crop Revenue Election program is an innovative alternative to the traditional farm safety net,” Vilsack said. “This new option presents an opportunity for producers to review both programs and decide which one will work best for their operation.”

Producers have until Aug.14, 2009, to make their decision for the 2009 crop. USDA will not accept any late-filed applications.

Producers who elect the ACRE program for a farm agree to: Forgo counter-cyclical payments; accept a 20-percent reduction of the direct payments; and accept a 30-percent reduction in loan rates for all commodities produced on the farm.

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.

The ACRE program was created in the 2008 farm bill to give producers an option in lieu of traditional counter-cyclical payments. Producers may elect and enroll in ACRE for the 2009 crop year even if they have already accepted advance direct payments under the direct and counter-cyclical program.

To elect ACRE for a farm, producers must complete Form CCC-509 ACRE, which irrevocably elects ACRE for the farm through crop year 2012. Form CCC-509, the contract to participate in ACRE, must then be completed each year the producer intends to participate and receive benefits.

For more information about the ACRE program please visit your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office or visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov.