What's Up at the FSA Office?

by Jeremy Leitz, Allamakee County Executive Director (563) 568-2148

Upcoming Deadlines/Dates
May 15 - August 1: Primary Nesting Season.  No MCM activities allowed on CRP acres.
June 3 - August 23: CRP Continuous Signup 52 
June 14: COC Nominations Begin
June 17 - Sept. 20: Dairy Margin Coverage Program Sign-Up

Crop Reporting
Allamakee county farmers are reminded to report all spring planted crops to the FSA office by July 15 to remain eligible for FSA and other USDA programs.   Please remember to bring planting dates with you. It is the producer’s responsibility to accurately report acres and producer’s shares in individual crops. Discrepancies found later may affect eligibility for all FSA-administered programs. Late-filed crop reports are assessed a $46 (per) farm visit fee.

Dairy Margin Coverage
Signup for new Dairy Margin Coverage program began on June 17 and runs through September 20, 2019. Coverage is retroactive to January.  Right now, we know the margin rates of January, February, March, and April. We should know the May margin by early July.

Dairy producers will select a coverage level ranging from $4 to $9.50 per cwt, in $0.50 increments and select a coverage percentage of the dairy operation’s production history ranging from 5 percent to 95 percent, in 5 percent increments. You have the option to receive a 25% discount on your annual premiums if you lock in for five years. You cannot change your coverage if you lock in.

The Farm Bill also allows producers who participated in MPP-Dairy from 2014-2017 to receive a repayment or credit for part of the premiums paid into the program. Producers that elect the premium reimbursement will have that 75% credit applied to their 2019 DMC premiums.

The Department has built in a 50 percent blend of premium and supreme alfalfa hay prices with the alfalfa hay price used under the prior dairy program to provide a total feed cost that more closely aligns with hay rations used by many producers. At a milk margin minus feed cost of $9.50 or less, payments are possible. With the 50 percent hay blend, FSA’s revised April 2019 income over feed cost margin is $8.82 per hundredweight (cwt). The revised margins for January, February, March and April are, respectively, $7.71, $7.91, $8.66, and $8.82 – triggering DMC payments for each month.

DMC payments will be reduced by 6.2 percent in 2019 because of a sequester order required by Congress and issued in accordance with the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.

All dairy operations in the United States are eligible for the DMC program. An operation can be run either by a single producer or multiple producers who commercially produce and market cows’ milk.

Eligible dairy operations must have a production history determined by FSA. For most operations, production history is based on the highest milk production in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Newer dairy operations have other options for determining production history. Producers may contact their local FSA office to get their verified production history.

FSA and the University of Wisconsin partnered on the development of a DMC decision support tool that helps producers determine the level of coverage under a variety of conditions that will provide them with the strongest coverage. Access the tool at https://dairymarkets.org/MPP.

County Committee Election
FSA is now accepting nominations for county committee members. Agricultural producers who participate or cooperate in an FSA program may be nominated for candidacy for the county committee. Individuals may nominate themselves or others as a candidate.  The last day to file a nomination is August 1. Forms can be obtained online or at our office.

Committees make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally. Their input is vital on how FSA carries out disaster programs, as well as conservation, commodity and price support programs, county office employment and other agricultural issues.

This year the election will be for LAA -1, which includes Waterloo, Union City, Hanover, French Creek, Union Prairie, and Makee townships.  Once nominations are finalized, producers who reside in LAA-1 will cast ballots which will be mailed to you on November 4.  These ballots are due back to the FSA office by December 2.  The elected member will take office on January 1.  If you want more information, please call or stop by the office.

USDA Reopens Continuous CRP Sign-up
FSA is currently accepting applications for certain practices under the continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signup and will offer extensions for expiring CRP contracts.

FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the continuous CRP signup when 2014 Farm Bill authority expired. Since passage of the 2018 Farm Bill last December, FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said FSA has carefully analyzed the language and determined that a limited signup prioritizing water-quality practices furthers conservation goals and makes sense for producers as FSA works to fully implement the program.

This year’s signup will include such practices as grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. Continuous signup enrollment contracts are 10 to 15 years in duration. Soil rental rates will be set at 90 percent of the existing rates. Incentive payments will not be offered for these contracts.

A one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants who have expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less, and don’t qualify for the current signup. Producers eligible for an extension will receive a letter describing their options.

Alternatively, producers with expiring contracts may have the option to enroll in the Transition Incentives Program, which provides two additional annual rental payments on the condition the land is sold or rented to a beginning farmer or rancher or a member of a socially disadvantaged group. Administrator Fordyce said FSA plans to open a CRP general sign-up December 2019.

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