USDA still hasn’t received the final go-ahead to start producer sign up for the 2008 Supplemental Revenue Assistance (SURE) Program, but that doesn’t mean growers who think they may qualify, or lenders needing a quick estimate of SURE benefits, can’t get a head start on the process.

Running on a parallel track to the substantial behind the scenes work being done by the USDA Farm Service Agency to prepare for the start of the SURE sign up period have been efforts to improve the accuracy of the Texas AgriLIFE Extension SURE Benefit Estimator.

More than a year in the making, the newest revision (designated version 2.1) includes updated Texas market year average prices and updated crop insurance price information that will improve the accuracy of the estimates derived for Texas farmers.

The Texas AgriLIFE Extension SURE Benefit Estimator was last updated on November 24 and anyone using a previous version of this tool is encouraged to download the new file as soon as possible.

Key changes made in version 2.1 include the addition of state level market year average crop prices and a retooling of formulas that should allow the spreadsheet to more accurately calculate gross crop insurance indemnities, especially those that may have resulted from CRC plans of insurance in 2008.

The Texas AgriLIFE Extension Service developed the original SURE Benefit Estimator with assistance from Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. more than a year ago to help answer producer questions about the program.

Like the original, version 2.1 of the SURE Benefit Estimator is a Microsoft Excel-based spreadsheet. The file is currently available for download from the Plains Cotton Growers website, located at http://www.plainscotton.org, and from the South Plains Profitability Project website located at: http://southplainsprofit.tamu.edu. A copy of Microsoft Excel is required to view and use the estimator.

The SURE benefit estimator is provided specifically to help producers calculate possible SURE payments. It does not calculate an exact actual payment due to the lack of a final set of program rules. It is also not designed to be a decision aid capable of helping producers decide whether or not to incur the cost of maintaining future SURE program eligibility.

It is important to note that final regulations governing the SURE program have not been released by FSA and any benefit calculated by the new version of the Texas AgriLIFE Extension SURE Benefit Estimator could still vary somewhat from the calculation a producer obtains from FSA for a variety of reasons.

The SURE benefit estimator utilizes Direct and Counter-cyclical Program data and Federal Crop Insurance information for an eligible producer or entity to estimate the possible benefits that might be available through the SURE program.

Complete instructions for using the estimator and explanations of the various program parameters used to calculate the estimated SURE payment are included as well.

Since final rules governing the program are still a work in process at USDA it is possible that additional updates could be required to improve the overall accuracy of the SURE benefit estimator. Users are encouraged to check the PCG and South Plains Profit Project websites regularly for updates.