Signup for ARC/PLC commodity support programs nears

Paul D. Mitchell
UW Madison
Resources have been developed for farmers (and those working with farmers) to help them make their decisions in signing up for ARC/PLC commodity support programs.

Signup for the USDA commodity support programs ARC (Agriculture Risk Coverage) and PLC (Price Loss Coverage) for the 2019 and 2020 crop years is currently ongoing, with the March 15, 2020 deadline rapidly approaching.

Resources have been developed for farmers (and those working with farmers) to help

them make their decisions along with my specific recommendations for farmers.

The Resources web page has multiple videos and other materials, as well as links to decision aids. Specific recommendations are given first, followed by explanations on how the programs work.

Next are links to decision aids and materials on how to use them: the Gardner Payment Simulator and a spreadsheet for Updating PLC Payment Yields. Last are materials on ARC-IC (Individual Coverage) and a spreadsheet of prices and county yield data

for major Wisconsin crops.

General Recommendations

Make your appointment with your local FSA office as soon as you can. FSA has a lot of farms to process by the March 15, 2020 deadline and there is no value to waiting. The local office will guide you on the information you need but expect to know your crop yields for each FSA farm as far back as 2013.

Next, update your PLC payment yields for each crop and farm, if they increase. Updating yields is important, even if you do not select PLC this sign up, as you may want to in the future and it may be years before you can update PLC yields again.

Crop-Specific Program Recommendations

Farmers can choose ARC-CO or PLC separately for each FSA farm and crop – one of your farms can use PLC for soybeans and another can use ARC-CO. The crop-specific recommendations below are based on which program has the largest expected payments for 2019 and 2020 using the Gardner Payment Simulator (, or comparing projected prices to the PLC Reference price and the ARC-CO price.

Crop-Specific Program Recommendations

  • Corn: Choose PLC.
  • Soybeans: Run the Gardner Payment for your county using your PLC yields and choose the option with the largest expected payments for 2019 and 2020.
  • Wheat, Barley, Grain Sorghum and Sunflowers: Choose PLC.
  • Oats: Choose ARC-CO.

Soybean Comments

Expected ARC-CO and PLC payments for soybeans vary by county and PLC yields, making simple generalizations difficult. Formany Wisconsin farms, ARC-CO will be the best choice, since low county yields will still trigger payments, while the $8.40/bu PLC reference price is well below expected prices, making payments less likely.

However, in a few counties, and for farms with higher than average PLC yields, PLC has higher expected payments, sometimes by more than $2 per base acre. This variation is why I recommend that farmers run the Gardner Payment Simulator for their county and

PLC yields to determine whether ARC or PLC has the largest expected payments for 2019 and 2020.

The Resources web page has a video on how to use the simulator or contact your county Extension agent. For more information visit