ANALYZING 2024 FARM PROGRAM DECISIONS
Late in 2023 the 2018 Farm Bill was extended for one year, extending the expiration of the current Farm Bill until
September 30, 2024. This also meant that the provisions and parameters that existed for traditional farm programs
will continue for the 2024 crop year for corn, soybeans, wheat, and other crops. The good news for farm operators
is that the reference prices for corn and soybeans will increase for the 2024 crop year, while the reference price
for wheat will remain the same as existed in previous years. This is the first time that corn and soybean reference
prices have increased beyond the statutory reference prices since that were initiated in the 2014 Farm Bill and
later continued with the 2018 Farm Bill. The benchmark prices for corn, soybeans, and wheat are also increased
for the 2024 farm program.

Eligible farm operators have from now until March 15 to enroll in the 2024 farm program at local USDA Farm
Service Agency (FSA) offices. Eligible cops include corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, barley, grain sorghum, long
grain rice, medium/short grain rice, temperate japonica rice, seed cotton, dry peas, lentils, large and small
chickpeas, peanuts, sunflower seed, canola, flaxseed, mustard seed, rapeseed, safflower, crambe, and sesame seed.
Producers can choose between the price-only “Price Loss Coverage” (PLC) and revenue-based “Ag Risk
Coverage” (ARC) program choices for the 2024 crop production year. The ARC program choice includes both
the county-yield based “ARC-CO” program choice, which is most popular, and the “ARC-IC” program, which is
based on farm-level yields. If no choice is made, the 2023 farm program choice will remain in place for 2024;
however, producers still need to enroll in the 2024 farm program in order to be eligible for farm program benefits.

Crop base acres for 2024 will remain at the same levels as 2023 for all crops on most farms, unless there are
adjustments in base acres for crop acres that were added via land purchases or rental agreements or acres that are
no longer eligible for farm program payments. The farm program yields on individual farm units, which were last
updated in 2020, will be continued to calculate potential PLC payments in 2024. The ARC-CO “benchmark
yields” for 2024 are based on the “Olympic-average” Risk Management Agency (RMA) county average yields
for the 2018 to 2022 crop years. The national “market year average” (MYA) price for each program crop for the
years 2018-2022 was averaged to calculate the 2024 “benchmark price” for the ARC-CO and ARC-IC programs.

The calculation formulas, etc. for the 2024 PLC, ARC-CO and ARC-IC programs will remain the same as in
previous years. PLC payments for 2024 will be made if the final MYA price for 2024 falls below the reference
price for a given crop. ARC-CO payments for 2024 will be made if the final county revenue for the year (county
yield x final 2024 MYA price) falls below the 2024 benchmark revenue (county benchmark yield x benchmark
price) for a given crop. The calculations for the ARC-IC program are the same as for the ARC-CO program,
except ARC-IC uses farm-level yield data and considers all crops on a farm unit together for calculation of
potential payments in a given year. PLC and ARC-CO payments are paid on 85 percent of crop base acres, while
ARC-IC payments are paid on only 65 percent of base acres.

The 2014 Farm Bill established “statutory reference prices” for all crops that were used to calculate PLC
payments. The 2018 Farm Bill set the fixed statutory prices as minimum reference prices and added the possibility
for “effective reference prices”. This allows the reference price to increase by as much as 15 percent above the
fixed reference price (fixed price x 115%). The final calculated reference price for a given year is the higher of
the fixed statutory price or the 5-year “Olympic average” price for a commodity times 85 percent (.85). The
“Olympic average” price is calculated by taking the market year average (MYA) price for the five previous years
(not including the current marketing year), dropping the high and the low price, and then averaging the other
prices for the other three years. For the 2024 crop year, the “Olympic average” price is based on the MYA prices
for the years 2018 to 2022, which is then multiplied by 85% (.85) to determine the final reference price.

The final effective reference prices (ERP) for the 2019 to 2023 crop years were at the minimum statutory levels
of $3.70 per bushel for corn, $8.40 per bushel for soybeans, and $5.50 per bushel for wheat, meaning that
calculation for higher reference prices was not triggered for any of those three crops. MYA prices have been high
enough in recent years to likely result in higher 2024 PLC reference prices for corn and soybeans; however, the
wheat reference price will likely remain at the minimum level. The higher reference prices for corn and soybeans
potentially increases the likelihood of PLC payments for the 2024 crop year, especially for corn if average market
prices continue to decline during the 2024-25 marketing year.

Key points to remember about the 2024 Farm Program decision:
• The 2024 reference prices for the PLC program are:
Corn = $4.01 per bushel ($3.70/Bu. in 2023)
Soybeans = $9.26 per bushel ($8.40/Bu.in 2023)
Wheat = $5.50 per bushel (same as 2023)
• The ARC-CO and ARC-IC benchmark prices for 2024 are:
Corn = $4.85 per bushel ($3.98/Bu. in 2023)
Soybeans = $11.12 per bushel ($9.57/Bu. in 2023)
Wheat = $6.21 per bushel ($5.50/Bu. in 2023)
• Final 2024 MYA prices for corn and soybeans will be calculated from 9-01-24 to 8-31-25. As a result,
the current trends in crop prices may not necessarily impact final 2024 farm program payments. Final
2024 MYA prices for wheat and other small grains will be calculated from 6-01-24 to 5-31-25.
• Calculation formulas for the PLC and ARC-CO programs are as follows:
• PLC payment per crop base acre = (2024 Ref. Price – 2024 MYA price) x program yield x .85
(If the final 2024 MYA price is higher than the reference price, there is no PLC payment.)
• ARC-CO Benchmark (BM) revenue guarantee per acre = County BM yield x BM price x .86
Final 2024 ARC-CO revenue per acre = Final 2024 County yield x Final 2024 MYA price
ARC-CO payment per base acre = (BM Revenue Guarantee – 2024 Final Revenue) x .85
(If the final revenue is higher than the BM revenue, there is no 2024 ARC-CO payment.)
• For official information on PLC and ARC-CO programs, and other farm program details, go to the FSA
farm program website at: www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc
For a listing of 2024 benchmark yields for all crops, refer to:
https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/arcplc_program/arcplc-program-data/index
• Following are some good Farm Program web-based decision tools to assist producers:
• North Dakota State University — https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/farmmanagement/farm-bill
• Kansas State University — http://www.agmanager.info/ag-policy/2018-farm-bill
• University of Illinois FarmDoc website — https://farmdoc.illinois.edu/
• Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst, has prepared an information sheet titled: “2024 Farm Program
Decision “Cheat Sheet”, which lists key points regarding the 2024 farm decision for corn, soybeans and
wheat for the 2024 crop year. A copy of the “Cheat Sheet” is attached.

BOTTOM – LINE
Another provision in the 2018 Farm Bill that will be carried over for the 2024 farm program allows farm operators
to make year-to-year decisions between PLC, ARC-CO and ARC-IC for each eligible crop on an FSA farm unit.
The higher PLC reference prices for corn and soybeans and increasing benchmark prices for corn, soybeans, and
wheat will make the 2024 farm program decision a bit more challenging than in recent years. Farm operators are
encouraged to use 2024 farm program calculators to do a bit more analysis before finalizing the 2024 farm
program decisions for various crops.
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Note — For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst, Green Solutions
Phone — (507) 381-7960; E-mail — kentthiesse@gmail.com