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(Adds details, USDA Secretary quotes)
By Christine Stebbins
CHICAGO, March 27 (Reuters) - U.S. farmers will have another week to enroll in the government's new subsidy programs under the five-year farm bill, with the deadline extended to April 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Friday.
The final day for farmers to update their crop acreage and yield history, the first step to qualify for the new subsidies, will be extended to April 7. The farmers had already had the deadline to update their acreage data extended by one month to March 31.
Participating grain farmers must choose between one of two new programs, a price average formula called Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and a fixed-price formula called Price Loss Coverage (PLC). Farmers need to commit to one or the other for the next five years.
"This is an important decision for producers because these programs help farmers and ranchers protect their operations from unexpected changes in the marketplace," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. "Nearly 98 percent of owners have already updated their yield and base acres, and 90 percent of producers have enrolled in ARC or PLC," he said.
Enrollment numbers are strong and continue to rise, Vilsack said, and the additional week will give producers more time to make their final decisions.
University economists who have been teaching farmers about the complicated new programs in recent months say ARC is a big favorite among corn and soybean farmers while PLC will likely be more popular with crops like wheat, sorghum, barley, rice and peanuts.
Covered commodities include barley, canola, chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, rice, safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity. (Reporting by Christine Stebbins, editing by G Crosse)