The 2002 Farm bill for some was confusing and difficult. This was especially true when deciding which option to use for the farm owned. Through collaborative efforts with the Farm Service Agency in Newton County, IN the Purdue CES Newton County Office and Purdue Agricultural Economics Department, farmers and land owners were able to make more informed decisions. Dr. Allen Gray, Purdue Ag economist developed a decision spreadsheet to aid landowners in evaluating the various options available. The local agencies in Newton County organized a series of three informational meetings to answer questions related to the farm bill and to demonstrate the decision spreadsheet. A fourth meeting then featured Dr. Gray to further answer questions on the farm bill and the spreadsheet.
Through demonstrating this piece of information, 60% of the crop acres in Newton County Indiana were enrolled using the aid of this program. There were 40 ag producers who came directly into to the Extension Office. Payments totaling $23 million were analyzed using this spreadsheet. Using information from university specialists, the local Extension Office was able to engage the surrounding agricultural community and make a positive financial impact.
As we look into the 2007-08 Farm Bill, the same possibilities exist to transfer information to the citizens of our respective states and counties. Being responsive to the needs of the area and teaming with all levels of related agencies will be important to addressing any new changes in the farm programs of the future.