USDA announced in earlier this fall that sign-up has started for the 2011 DCP and ACRE  programs at county Farm Service Agency  (FSA) offices, and will continue until June 1, 2011. Producers who enroll in the DCP program for 2011 can receive 22% of their expected direct payment shortly after sign-up, with the balance being paid after Oct. 1, 2011. Producers enrolled in the ACRE program in 2009 or 2010, or who opt for the ACRE program for 2011, will have their total direct payments reduced by 20% for 2010. Producers who wish to receive their 2011 DCP program advance direct payment in 2010 must contact their county FSA office by mid-December to assure payment in 2010. Otherwise, the advance payment will be made after Jan. 1, 2011. Producers who have changes in owned and rented land for 2011 will need to have those adjustments made at the county FSA office prior to enrolling in the 2011 DCP program.
Producers who enrolled farms in the ACRE program for 2009 or 2010 will automatically have those farms enrolled for 2011. Producers may enroll additional farms in the ACRE program for 2011; however, once a farm is enrolled in ACRE, it must remain in ACRE through the 2012 crop year, regardless of what crop is raised in that year. Rules and regulations for the ACRE program for 2011 are not likely to change very much from 2009 and 2010. The five-year average state and farm-level yields will be updated to include 2010 crop yields, and the benchmark prices for 2011 will be based on the 2009 and 2010 average crop prices.
Producers can enroll for the 2011 DCP program at county FSA offices in the coming months in order to receive their advance direct payment, and decide later – up until June 1, 2011 – whether or not they want to enroll in ACRE for 2011. It is probably good advice to wait until later this winter or until next spring to decide whether to sign up for ACRE for 2011. This allows time for the final yield figures for 2010, and for a better handle on grain price trends. If a producer signs up for the DCP program in the next couple of months, and later enrolls in ACRE for 2011, any adjustments in the direct payment will be made on the final payment after Oct. 1, 2011.
For more information on sign-up for the 2011 DCP or ACRE program, producers should contact their county FSA office.
Check Grain Bins
Corn  and soybean  producers across the Midwest had very good fall harvest season, with many farm operators completing harvest by early November. Producers need to pay close attention to monitoring grain that is stored in on-farm grain bins for potential storage problems. Much of the corn and soybeans in 2010 were harvested and placed into grain bins at very warm temperatures; however, we have had a wide range of temperatures in the past several weeks, from very cold to fairly warm. These extreme changes in outside temperature can cause wide temperature variations in grain bins to occur, resulting in moisture migration in the bin, and potential for grain spoilage. Farm operators should run aeration fans periodically to equalize the grain bin temperatures in order to help prevent this situation from occurring. It is very important to check grain bins on a regular basis for any potential storage issues, and to address those issues promptly. Otherwise, there can be considerable damage to grain in storage, resulting in a significant financial loss to the farm operator.
Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at [email protected]