BALDWIN -- The Michigan State University Extension office is offering programs throughout the state for farmers on updates to the Farm Bill 2018.

The field crop commodity section of the program is now ready for producer participation, and to help farmers navigate the best plan for their farm, MSU Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) are offering meetings throughout the state.

MSU Extension service cover crop and soil educator Christina Curell said there are contingencies for changes in acreage farmers are declaring for payment options.

"Farmers will need to re-enroll their acreage by March 15, 2020," Curell said. "This year was a really bad agriculture year, so we are encouraging farmers to re-enroll and put in some different numbers."

According to a report provided by the MSU Extension service, because of the delay in implementation, farms will be signing up for the 2019 and 2020 crop year almost concurrently.

This will benefit farmers in that it will make the 2019 crop year decision more informed and will have a direct impact on the choice between the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program and the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program, the report stated.

The ARC program provides revenue-based payments when a farmer's revenue falls below a guaranteed level. The PLC program provides priced-based payments when prices for a certain commodity are less than the referenced price level. PLC uses an individual farm's yields to determine payment rate.

The farm bill provides a one-time opportunity to update a farm's yields, based on the 2013-17 yields. Livestock producers will need to work with their local FSA office to determine yields for 2013-17.

A few bushels yield increase in your farm's PLC yields can make a significant difference in payments made due to depressed prices, the report said.

Another change in the farm bill is that producers will be able to make a yearly choice between ARC and PLC after the initial sign-up for the 2019-20 year. Final decisions on ARC or PLC must be completed by March 15.

Producers should sign-up, update their yields, and make their initial election decisions now, the MSU Extension service report states. If you miss this date, you will not be able to enroll and will not receive any potential payments for the 2019 crop year, and will be defaulted to the previous 2014 decision for the 2020 year.

The MSU Extension service has partnered with local FSA offices to offer multiple meetings across the state.

"Extension service representatives will be going around doing programs for farmers," Curell said. "We will be visiting farms to figure out the best way for them to re-enroll. It doesn't matter if they are dairy or crop, we will come out and help them individually."

"We encourage farmers to attend one of the meetings," she added. "The difference in the payout can be anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 -- the difference between saving a farm or not."

MSU farm business management educator Roger Betz has developed a program to help producers make the decision between ARC and PLC by crop and farm. The program has built-in information from each county and helps farmers make decisions for each individual farm for corn, wheat and soybeans.

This program is available at canr.msu.edu/farm_management.

For a complete listing of meeting locations, dates and times, visit events.anr.msu.edu/farmbill.