Wheat producers grazing out part of their acres may be prevented from updating yield history according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture interpretation of the new farm bill.
"As we understand the rule, if we plant 1,000 acres of wheat, but harvest 500 acres with our cattle, those acres will receive a zero yield for production history purposes," Steve Kouplen, Oklahoma Farm Bureau president, said. "This basically cuts our yield for the 1,000 acres in half, and obviously this would prevent us from updating yields."
Updating yields could make producers eligible for higher program payments. If producers do not update yields, they must rely on yield history from the 1985 farm bill.
In an Aug. 22 letter to USDA Secretary Ann Veneman, the Oklahoma Farm Bureau leader asked for reinterpretation of the rules.
"This interpretation of the program, as passed by Congress, negates a significant opportunity for our producers to take full advantage of the program," he said. "Congress sent specific language to the USDA on how to implement the program. Updating grazed and hayed wheat acres are included in the congressional directive."
Low wheat prices the last several years have forced Oklahoma producers to significantly increase the amount of acres grazed or hayed.
Oklahoma Farm Bureau also voiced concern about producers not being able to use crop insurance records to update yields. This would greatly simplify and reduce the paperwork.
"We realize the new farm program is extremely complex and the implementation task is enormous," Kouplen said. "We encourage producers to thoroughly research all their options."