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NDSU Extension Service, Published February 22 2012

SURE called 'critical' part of safety net for ag producers

FARGO - North Dakota had its share of production problems in 2011. Approximately 5.6 million acres of cropland was not planted because of wet conditions, and crops that were seeded often suffered lower than normal yields.

Many producers may receive some help through the federal Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments program.

SURE is a program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency.

"SURE is a critical part of the safety net for our producers because it provides a good level of protection against shallow losses," says Aaron Krauter, FSA North Dakota executive director. "Even if you manage to go through the year without any major crop losses, lower than expected yields or poor markets can put a big dent in the bottom line and SURE can help you recover from that."

A SURE Calculator program for 2011 is available through North Dakota State University at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/farmmanagement/tools. The program will estimate payments that may be made later this year.

"This can be important to producers when projecting cash flows," says Andy Swenson, NDSU Extension Service farm management specialist.

"The SURE calculator put together by the NDSU Extension Service is a good tool to use to determine if you might qualify for a SURE payment this fall," Krauter says. "When the signup period is announced by the USDA this fall, make certain to contact your local FSA office for an appointment to make the SURE application."

The program is applicable to nearly all farm situations. It has been revised to handle 23 different crops, the most prevalent crop insurance policy types and larger farms.

The SURE payment calculation is dependent on many factors, but all the necessary information should be known now, except the 2011 national marketing year average crop prices.

The 2011 marketing year is June 1, 2011, through May 31, 2012, for wheat and barley. For soybeans, corn and sunflowers, the marketing year is Sept. 1, 2011, through Aug. 31, 2012.

"However, we are far enough into the marketing year to narrow the range of estimates for the final average price," Swenson says. "The SURE Calculator contains a list of price estimates that will be updated each month until the final price is known."

SURE is a unique federal farm program because it is based on the financial performance of the entire crop farm. As defined under SURE, a payment is made if "actual farm revenue" falls short of the "farm revenue guarantee." The payment is 60 percent of the shortfall.

"Because SURE payments are triggered at the whole-farm level, stronger returns on some acreage typically offset losses on other acreage and no payments are made," Swenson says. "However, the production situation in 2011 probably will generate payments for many producers."

There are several eligibility requirements for the SURE program. The producer must carry crop insurance on all crops unless a crop has less than a 5 percent economic significance to the farm. The farm must be in or adjacent to a county that has a federal disaster declaration (all North Dakota counties qualified in

2011) or else the farm must have had a 50 percent revenue shortfall. The farm also must have a least one crop with a 10 percent revenue shortfall.

"Meeting these criteria should not be a problem for most North Dakota farms," Swenson says.