Currently, the 2002 farm bill provides eligible producers with direct and counter-cyclical payments for cotton, feed grains and food grains. The direct payment is paid in two installments and counter-cyclical payments are paid in three installments. Depending on the crops grown, producers could receive payments in five or six different months.

The calculator projects direct and counter-cyclical payments based on producers' data. It also estimates monthly payments a farmer will likely receive for each year of the farm bill. Estimated monthly payments are presented by crop and by farm unit.

Producers can access the calculator by selecting the Government Payment Calculator option on the AFPC home page at www.afpc.tamu.edu.

"The Government Payment Calculator will be a tremendous help to farmers trying to prepare their cash flow plans for the next five years," said James Richardson, policy center professor.

Joe Outlaw, Extension policy specialist, said "The AFPC's Base and Yield Calculator was so popular, we are using the same format for delivering the Government Payment Calculator," he said.

Through a series of Web pages, producers can enter their base acres and payment yields for each crop on each farm unit. The calculator uses their data to estimate annual and monthly direct and counter-cyclical prices for 2003-2007. Three different types of reports can be requested and printed, providing a gross summary or detailed reports by farm unit and crop.

Richardson said the calculator is capable of simulating monthly payments for all eligible crops in all counties. Ranges on counter cyclical payments are provided as these payments will vary from year to year as prices change relative to the target price.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com