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ACRE program sign-up continues through Aug. 14

Local Farm Service Agency offices continue to accept requests to participate in the new Average Crop Revenue Election program. Application requests will continue to be accepted through the extended sign-up deadline of Aug. 14.

Authorized by the 2008 farm bill, the revenue program is a new alternative to the traditional counter-cyclical payments provided under the Direct and Counter-cyclical Program. However, producers will need to carefully consider their options before deciding if the optional revenue program will provide them with better financial protection than what the Direct and Counter-cyclical Program currently affords.

The decision to participate in the revenue program is especially important to all current and future farm owners and operators since the decision is irrevocable and binds the farm to the program through the remainder of the 2008 farm bill, which continues through the 2012 crop year.

Because the decision to elect is irrevocable, many producers had expressed a desire to have additional time to study and weigh options. In response, USDA officials previously announced that the Average Crop Revenue Election and Direct and Counter-cyclical Program sign-up deadline of June 1 was being extended to Aug. 14.

By participating in the revenue program, producers agree to forgo counter-cyclical payments, accept a 20 percent reduction in direct payments and receive a 30 percent reduction in their commodity loan rates for all commodities produced on the farm.

Commodities eligible for Average Crop Revenue Election payments include wheat, corn, soybeans, oats, barley, grain sorghum and a number of minor oilseed crops.

Producers may elect and enroll for the 2009 crop year, even if they've already enrolled in Direct and Counter-cyclical Program and received an advance direct payment.

Census of Ag data availableby watershed

For the first time, information from the Census of Agriculture is now available at the watershed level.

In a new publication prepared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service, selected data from the 2007 Census of Agriculture are provided by the watershed boundaries set by the U.S. Geological Survey. This information is also available for all 20 major water sources in the United States, including each of the 376 water basins.

Information from the 2002 Census of Agriculture is published alongside the 2007 census results, identifying changes that have taken place over the past five years regarding land use, production practices and livestock distribution.

Officials from National Agricultural Statistics Service have also announced that information from the 2007 Census of Agriculture is available by congressional district.

The congressional district profiles show changes in key areas since the last census was taken in 2002. Such changes include the number of farms and farmland acres, demographics of local farmers, livestock inventories, crop production data and total sales of agricultural products.

To view the census data now available by watershed or congressional district, visit USDA's Census of Agriculture Web site at:

Corn and soybean prices increase during May

According to the Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service, prices received by Minnesota corn farmers during May averaged $3.90 per bushel, an increase of $0.22 from April's average price. Meanwhile, soybean prices for May increased by $1.11 to an average price of $10.80 per bushel.

Hog prices averaged $43.80 per hundredweight during May, down $1 from April's price.

May beef cattle prices averaged $76.80 per hundredweight, a decline of $0.30 from April.

Minnesota milk prices during May averaged $11.70 per hundredweight, down $0.70 from April's average.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.