Hoping to avoid another federal government website embarrassment, USDA has rolled out a clean new web site that provides some excellent resources for understanding the way the new farm bill programs and options work.

Most farmers and farm groups are expressing support for the new farm law, but the legislation is tasking farmers to become familiar with new options and insurance programs rapidly and to make decisions this year about which programs are best for them in the coming years. This year will be a transitional year into the new changes while next year all the various programs and options provided for in the new farm program will, hopefully, be running smoothly on all cylinders.

Some are calling the new law a historic piece of farm legislation, while others are calling it a fair alternative to the better bill they had hoped to get. Whichever, it certainly brings about changes in titles, insurance and the overall safety net available to farmers. With these changes and options, individual farmers have the opportunity—and responsibility—to be involved in making decisions that better match titles to fit their needs.

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Since President Obama signed the new legislation into law last month, federal officials and farm and crop support groups have been struggling to comb through the many provisions of the new program in hopes of understanding how it is going to work and how then to share that information with farmers.

Surviving farm bill changes

Like many bills that order major changes in provisions within a federal program, and combined with the additional challenge of enacting a farm law after farmers had already made crop decisions for the new year, government, farm and crop officials knew it would be a struggle to educate and inform producers when they were just getting busy preparing fields or in some cases were already involved in planting.

The National Cotton Council was one of the first support groups to begin staging information presentations for cotton producers across the Cotton Belt. What started in coastal Texas, where fields were being prepared for planting, is now spreading to other Southern cotton producing states. And NCC is not the only farm group to kick start farm bill education events.