What's up at the FSA Office?

by Joyce Davidshofer, Allamakee County Executive Director

The Allamakee County Committee meeting will be  July 17 at 9 a.m.

April 15, 2014 – January 30, 2015 sign-up for the LIP/LFP/ELAP/TAP programs.
June 9, 2014 – September 30, 2014 – CRP Continuous CRP Sign-up 46.
June 9, 2014 – August 8, 2014 – CRP contracts expiring September 30, 2014 can extend for one year.
No General CRP sign-up for 2014.
July 15, 2014 – Crop certification deadline.
July 16-20, 2014 – FSA/NRCS booth will at the Allamakee County Fair Exhibit  building. Stop in to see us.
November 1, 2014 – December 30, 2015 – Forage, pasture, grasses certification due for spring 2015 year. Late file fee will apply no waivers.
Save time – make an appointment with FSA for the lIP/LFP/ELAP/TAP programs starting July 16, 2014 through September 28, 2014.
As we roll out the Farm Bill programs administered by FSA, there will be related sign-ups and in some cases multiple management decisions that need to be made by you, the producer, in consult with FSA staff. To insure maximum use of your time and to insure that you are afforded our full attention to your important business needs, please call our office ahead of your visit to set an appointment and to discuss any records or documentation that you may need to have with you when you arrive for your appointment. For Allamakee County FSA Service Center you can call 563-568-2148.

USDA Announces Changes to Fruit, Vegetable and Wild Rice Planting Rules
Farm Service Agency (FSA) has announced fruit, vegetable and wild rice provisions that affect producers who intend to participate in certain programs authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014.  
 Producers who intend to participate in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs are subject to an acre-for-acre payment reduction when fruits and nuts, vegetables or wild rice are planted on the payment acres of a farm.  Payment reductions do not apply to mung beans, dry peas, lentils or chickpeas.  Planting fruits, vegetables or wild rice on acres that are not considered payment acres will not result in a payment reduction.  Farms that are eligible to participate in ARC/PLC but are not enrolled for a particular year may plant unlimited fruits, vegetables and wild rice for that year but will not receive ARC/PLC payments for that year.  Eligibility for succeeding years is not affected.
Planting and harvesting fruits, vegetables and wild rice on ARC/PLC acreage is subject to the acre-for-acre payment reduction when those crops are planted on either more than 15 percent of the base acres of a farm enrolled in ARC using the county coverage or PLC, or more than 35 percent of the base acres of a farm enrolled in ARC using the individual coverage.
Fruits, vegetables and wild rice that are planted in a double-cropping practice will not cause a payment reduction if the farm is in a double-cropping region as designated by the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation.

Highly Erodible Land And Wetland Compliance
Landowners and operators are reminded that in order to receive payments from USDA, they must be compliant with Highly Erodible Land (HEL) and Wetland Conservation (WC) provisions.   Farmers with HEL determined soils must apply tillage, crop residue and rotation requirements as specified in their conservation plan.  
Producers should notify FSA prior to conducting land clearing or drainage projects to ensure compliance.  If you intend to clear any trees to create new cropland, these areas will need to be reviewed to ensure any work will not jeopardize your eligibility for benefits.
Landowners and operators can complete form AD-1026 Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) Certification to determine whether a referral to Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is necessary.   
For more information on Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions, contact  Allamakee County FSA County Office or visit the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov.
Guaranteed Loan Eligibility
Changes to FSA regulations have removed Guaranteed Operating Loan term limits. Previous and current guaranteed loan borrowers who were not eligible for further guaranteed loans due to the previous 15 year eligibility term limit may now be eligible for further guaranteed loans through their commercial lender.

Direct Loan Changes
Changes were made to the interest rate charged on loans where FSA provides 50 percent or less on jointly financed purchases of real estate also called Direct Farm Ownership Participation Loans. The interest rate will be the greater of 2.5 percent or the current interest rate for direct Farm Ownership loans minus 2 percent, as a fixed rate for the duration of the loan. At present, the June direct Farm Ownership rate is 4.00 percent. Because the 2.5 percent floor is greater than subtracting 2 percent from the current direct farm ownership loan rate, the rate for Direct Farm Ownership Participation Loans in June is 2.50 percent.

Beginning Farmer Loans
FSA assists beginning farmers to finance agricultural enterprises. Under these designated farm loan programs, FSA can provide financing to eligible applicants through either direct or guaranteed loans. FSA defines a beginning farmer as a person who:
• Has operated a farm for not more than 10 years
• Will materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm
• Agrees to participate in a loan assessment, borrower training and financial management program sponsored by FSA
• Does not own a farm in excess of 30 percent of the county’s average size farm.
Additional program information, loan applications, and other materials are available at the Allamakee County Service Center.  You may also visit www.fsa.usda.gov.

Loans for the Socially Disadvantaged
FSA has a number of loan programs available to assist applicants to begin or continue in agriculture production.  Loans are available for operating type loans and/or purchase or improve farms or ranches.  
While all qualified producers are eligible to apply for these loan programs, the FSA has provided priority funding for members of socially disadvantaged applicants.  
A socially disadvantaged applicant is one of a group whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic or gender prejudice because of his or her identity as members of the group without regard to his or her individual qualities.  
For purposes of this program, socially disadvantaged groups are women, African Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
FSA loans are only available to applicants who meet all the eligibility requirements and are unable to obtain the needed credit elsewhere.

Microloan Program
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) developed the Microloan (ML) program to better serve the unique financial operating needs of beginning, niche and small family farm operations.   
FSA offers applicants a Microloan designed to help farmers with credit needs of $35,000 or less. The loan features a streamlined application process built to fit the needs of new and smaller producers.  This loan program will also be useful to specialty crop producers and operators of community supported agriculture (CSA).   
Eligible applicants can apply for a maximum amount of $35,000 to pay for initial start-up expenses such as hoop houses to extend the growing season, essential tools, irrigation and annual expenses such as seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents, marketing, and distribution expenses.  As financing needs increase, applicants can apply for a regular operating loan up to the maximum amount of $300,000 or obtain financing from a commercial lender under FSA’s Guaranteed Loan Program.
Individuals who are interested in applying for a microloan or would like to discuss other farm loan programs available should contact the Allamakee County FSA office to set up an appointment with a loan official.  

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