The 2008 farm bill involved 16 months of debate. The end product is similar to the 2002 farm bill in the crops arena, continuing counter-cyclical payments, direct payments, and marketing assistance loans. In addition, however, the 2008 bill adds a new, optional counter-cyclical revenue program (Average Crop Revenue Election, or ACRE), authorizes a new permanent disaster program, and contains various other changes. The new ACRE program provides an entirely new set of dimensions for producers to consider in deciding whether to opt into the program, including the multi-year trade-off between the loss of potential “traditional” payments and the revenue protection provided by ACRE, as well as the producer’s own expectations about yield and price trends and variability. The payment calculation associated with the new permanent disaster program appears at first glance to be relatively simple, although the whole-farm nature of the program and the number of variables makes it quite complex.


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