What's Up at the USDA Office?

Upcoming Deadlines/Dates
May 15 - August 1: CRP Primary Nesting Season
May 31: Deadline to apply for a Marketing Assistance Loan (MAL) for 2023 crops
June 19: Office Closed – Juneteenth
July 4: Office Closed – Independence Day
July 15: Acreage Reporting Deadline for FY24

2024 Crop Acreage Reporting
2024 acreage certification map packets have been sent to all operators in Allamakee County the last week of April. Be sure to look through your packets to verify all your operated farms were included.

Policy Updates for Acreage Reporting
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) recently made several policy updates for acreage reporting for cover crops, revising intended use, late-filed provisions, grazing allotments as well as updated the definitions of “idle” and “fallow.”

Reporting Cover Crops:
Cover crop types can be chosen from the following four categories:
• Cereals and other grasses
• Legumes
• Brassicas and other broadleaves
• Mixtures

If the cover crop is harvested for any use other than forage or grazing and is not terminated according to policy guidelines, then that crop will no longer be considered a cover crop, and the acreage report must be revised to reflect the actual crop.

Permitted Revision of Intended use After Acreage Reporting Date:
New operators or owners who pick up a farm after the acreage reporting deadline has passed and the crop has already been reported on the farm, have 30 calendar days from the date when the new operator or owner acquired the lease on land, control of the land or ownership and new producer crop share interest in the previously reported crop acreage. Under this policy, appropriate documentation must be provided to the County Committee’s satisfaction to determine that a legitimate operator or ownership and producer crop share interest change occurred to permit the revision.

Acreage Reports:
To maintain program eligibility and benefits, you must timely file acreage reports. Failure to file an acreage report by the crop acreage reporting deadline may result in ineligibility for future program benefits. FSA will not accept acreage reports provided more than a year after the acreage reporting deadline.

Organic Certification Cost Share Available
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will cover up to 75% of the costs associated with organic certification, up to $750 per category, through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP).
As part of USDA’s broader effort to support organic producers and in response to stakeholder feedback, this year FSA increased the cost share to the maximum amount allowed by statute. 

Cost Share for 2024
 The cost share provides financial assistance for organic certification, and producers and handlers are eligible to receive 75% of the costs, up to $750, for crops, wild crops, livestock, processing/handling, and state organic program fees (California only). 
Producers have until Oct. 31, 2024, to file applications, and FSA will make payments as applications are received.  

How to Apply
To apply -  As part of completing the OCCSP application, producers and handlers will need to provide documentation of their organic certification for expenses incurred from Oct. 1, 2023, through Sept. 30, 2024.

Reminders for FSA Direct, Guaranteed Borrowers with Real Estate Security
Farm loan borrowers who have pledged real estate as security for their Farm Service Agency (FSA) direct or guaranteed loans are responsible for maintaining loan collateral. Borrowers must obtain prior consent or approval from FSA or the guaranteed lender for any transaction that affects real estate security. These transactions include, but are not limited to:
• Leases of any kind
• Easements of any kind
• Subordinations
• Partial releases
• Sales

Failure to meet or follow the requirements in the loan agreement, promissory note, and other security instruments could lead to nonmonetary default which could jeopardize your current and future loans.

It is critical that borrowers keep an open line of communication with their FSA loan staff or guaranteed lender when it comes to changes in their operation. For more information on borrower responsibilities, read Your FSA Farm Loan Compass.