What's up at the FSA Office?

by Joyce Davidshofer, Allamakee County Executive Director

The next Allamakee County FSA Committee meeting will be held Thursday, October 30 at 9 a.m. in the Allamakee County FSA Conference Room.

MPP- Dairy Program
The sign-up for the MPP-Dairy Program is from September 2, 2014 to November 28, 2014 for the 2014 and/or 2015 milk calendar years. The Allamakee County FSA office will need 2011, 2012 and 2013 pounds for each year before signing up.
For more information on this program, contact the Allamakee County FSA Office. We are willing to work with small groups in the office to talk over the MPP program with you. Please call to set up a time.

ARC/PLC Farm Program Updates
For the 2014 and 2015 farm bill election of PLC, ARC-CO or ARC-IC, the Allamakee County FSA Office must be notified if there is a change of operator on their farm from 2014 to 2015 crop year. We will need to know who the current operators on the farm are.
If a landowner sold their farm and the new owner did not come into the Allamakee FSA Office to report the change, this will affect the new farm program. The records need to be updated as soon as possible.
1. The landowners for the PLC/ARC-CO/ARC-IC program selects the base acres reallocation or if the landowner will keep the current 2013 base. This also goes for the yields if the landowner will be updating yields or will keep the past yields. The timeframe for the owners to complete this process is September 29, 2014 – February 27, 2015.
2. The current producer with the interest in crop land will elect which farm bill program- PLC, ARC-IC or ARC-CO option to go with.
NOTE: There will be no changing each year between elections of PLC, ARC-IC or ARC-CO. The program that is elected for 2014 goes from 2014-2018 crop years. The timeframe for the elections for current operators will be November 17, 2014 – March 31, 2015.
• PLC or ARC County on a covered commodity-by-commodity basis.
• ARC Individual for all covered commodities on the farm.
3. ARC/PLC Enrollment. Estimated timeframe is mid-April 2015 through summer of 2015. Official dates will be announced in future columns.
a. Producers/Operators will be signing contracts to participate in the ARC/PLC for 2014 and 2015 crop years.
Schedule an appointment to meet with an FSA employee on the ARC/PLC program.
October 1, 2014 – December 15, 2015 – Forage, pasture, grasses certification due for spring 2015 year. Late file fee of $46 per farm will apply. No waivers will be granted.

Farm Bill Allows Early Termination for Certain CRP Contracts
Producers with acres under contract through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) can apply for early contract termination, as required by the 2014 Farm Bill.  The deadline to request early CRP contract termination is January 30, 2015.  
The effective date for early termination is no earlier than October 1, 2014. The CRP contract must been in effect for at least five years and other conditions must be met.  The 2014 Farm Bill identifies 10 exceptions whereby land will not be eligible for the early-out provisions.  For a complete list of these exceptions, please view the program fact sheet online at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/crp_opt_out_fact_sht.pdf
Once a CRP contract termination request is approved by the FSA County Committee, the decision cannot be reversed and the contract cannot be reinstated. Producers must meet conservation compliance provisions for all land that will be returned to production.
For more information on or to determine eligibility for early termination of existing CRP contracts, please contact your local FSA office.  For local FSA Service Center contact information, please visit: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.

New Support for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
USDA has announced the implementation of new Farm Bill measures and other policy changes to improve the financial security of new and beginning farmers and ranchers. USDA also unveiled www.USDA.gov/newfarmers, a new website that will provide a centralized, one-stop resource where beginning farmers and ranchers can explore the variety of USDA initiatives designed to help them succeed.
USDA’s www.usda.gov/newfarmers has in depth information for new farmers and ranchers, including: how to increase access to land and capital; build new market opportunities; participate in conservation opportunities; select and use the right risk management tools; and access USDA education, and technical support programs.  These issues have been identified as top priorities by new farmers. The website will also feature instructive case studies about beginning farmers who have successfully utilized USDA resources to start or expand their business operations.
Recent policy announcements in support of beginning farmers and ranchers include:
• Waiving service fees for new and beginning farmers or ranchers to enroll in the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) for the 2014 crop year. NAP provides risk management tools to farmers who grow crops for which there is no crop insurance product. Under this waiver, announced via an official notice to Farm Service Agency offices, farmers and ranchers whom already enrolled in NAP for the 2014 crop year and certified to being a beginning farmer or social disadvantaged farmer are eligible for a service fee refund.
 • Eliminating payment reductions under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for new and beginning farmers which will allow routine, prescribed, and emergency grazing outside the primary nesting season on enrolled land consistent with approved conservation plans. Previously, farmers and ranchers grazing on CRP land were subject to a reduction in CRP payments of up to 25 percent.  Waiving these reductions for new and beginning farmers will provide extra financial support during times of emergency like drought and other natural disasters.  
• Increasing payment rates to beginning farmers and ranchers under Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). Under this provision, beginning farmers can claim up 90 percent of losses for lost livestock, such as bees, under ELAP. This is a fifty percent increase over previously available payment amounts to new and beginning farmers.
In the near future, USDA will also announce additional crop insurance program changes for beginning farmers and ranchers – including discounted premiums, waiver of administrative fees, and other benefits.

FSA Offers Farm Bill Website and Online Overview of Farm Bill Programs
The Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the 2014 Farm Bill, was signed by President Obama February 7, 2014. The Act repeals certain programs, continues some programs with modifications, and authorizes several new programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Most of these programs are authorized and funded through 2018.
For the latest on 2014 Farm Bill programs administered by FSA, please visit our Farm Bill website at www.fsa.usda.gov/farmbill and for an FSA program overview please read, download and/or print our recently posted FSA Farm Bill Fact Sheet titled, What’s in the 2014 Farm Bill for Farm Service Agency Customers?
For more information on FSA, please contact your local USDA Service Center or visit us online at www.fsa.usda.gov.