What's Up at the FSA Office?

by Joyce Davidshofer, Allamakee County Executive Director

The next Allamakee County FSA Committee meeting will be Thursday, December 4, 2014 in the Allamakee County FSA Conference Room in Waukon at 9 a.m.



November 27, 2014 - Office Closed for Thanksgiving

December 5, 2014 - Deadline for Margin Protection Program-Milk

December 15, 2014 - Deadline to certify forage crops for 2015 year

December 25, 2014 - Office Closed for Christmas

January 29, 2015 - ISU/FSA meeting for landowners and operators on the ARC/PLC program at 1 p.m. at Farmers & Merchants Savings Bank in Waukon.



Reallocation and yield

update process with

one-time election

USDA announced key dates for farm owners and producers to keep in mind regarding the new Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs enacted under the 2014 Farm Bill. Key dates associated with ARC/PLC program for farm owners and producers include the following:

September 29, 2014 to February 27, 2015: Landowners update yield history and/or reallocate base acres. Update Process (It is important if the landowner is not the operator of the farm the landowner and operator work together to compile information on yields and/or reallocation of base acres. Operator of rented ground cannot update sign the form for this update process.)

November 17, 2014 to March 31, 2015: Producers make a one-time irrevocable election of ARC or PLC for the 2014 through 2018 crop years. Election Process (In this process the operator makes the one-time irrevocable election.)

Mid-April 2015 through summer 2015: Producers enroll in 2014 and 2015 ARC or PLC contracts. (Enrollment Process).

The “update” process allows landowners to update their Counter-Cyclical (CC) Yields for covered commodities on the farm. The formula for updating a yield is the simple average of a covered commodity’s yield on the farm during the years 2008 through 2012, for which the crop was planted, times 90 percent. Landowners or operators may certify the yields; however, the landowner makes the decision to update to a new yield or retain the CC yield on the farm.

To prepare for the decision to update or retain the farm’s CC yield owners and operators should review and compile the farm’s yield by crop for the years 2008 through 2012 prior to visiting the local county office. Owners or producers may obtain a yield certification worksheet (CCC-859) from their local county office. The yield certification form is not required to be submitted; however, the form may be used as a tool to compile the yields for a covered commodity on the farm.  Owners or producers that compile yields prior to visiting the local county office will find the update process to be faster and efficient during their visit.

The “update” process also allows landowners to reallocate base acres on the farm to the 2009 through 2012 covered commodity planting history on the farm. The total base acres on the farm cannot be increased from the total base acres on the farm as of September 30, 2013. The reallocation formula is the proration of the 2009 through 2012 average of planted and considered planted covered commodity acres to the total of the farm’s planted and considered planted acres of all covered commodities. Landowners will make the decision to reallocate or retain the base acres on the farm.

The decision to “Elect” PLC, ARC-CO, or ARC-IC will be made by the current producers on the farm and begins November 17, 2014. The deadline to make an election is March 31, 2015.  Failure to elect a farm will result in the farm defaulting to PLC, and the 2014 payments will not be earned. Landowners must complete the update process mentioned above (with a February 27 deadline) before an election may be made for the farm.

Online tools are available to assist in the election decision process. The tools allow farm owners and operators to enter farm operation information to view ARC and PLC projections based on various future scenarios. The new tools are available at www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc. Farm owners and producers can access the online resources from the convenience of their home computer or mobile device at any time.

Remember to “Update” by February 27, 2015, “Elect” by March 31, 2015, and “Enroll” after March 31, 2015. Producers may contact the Allamakee County FSA office at 563-568-2148 for more information or make an appointment.


Margin Protection Program for Dairy Producers

The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the Margin Protection Program (MPP-Dairy) for dairy producers. The new, voluntary risk management program, which began September 2, 2014, replaced the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program which expired September 1, 2014.

MPP-Dairy offers protection to dairy producers when the difference (the margin) between the all-milk price and national average feed cost falls below a certain producer selected amount.

Eligible producers may purchase coverage for their dairy operation by paying an annual administrative fee of $100 and a premium, as applicable, for higher levels of coverage. Producers in the dairy operation will have to select a desired coverage level ranging from $4.00 to $8.00, in $0.50 increments and a desired coverage percentage level ranging from 25 to 90 percent, in five percent increments. Producers will also have to decide whether or not to participate in the MPP-Dairy Program or the Livestock Gross Margin program administered by the Risk Management Agency (RMA), but they will not be allowed to participate in both.

An MMP-Dairy decision tool by DMaP (Dairy Markets and Policy) is available to help producers make coverage level decisions at http://www.dairymarkets.org/MPP/Tool/. Dairy operators will establish their production history during sign-up, which will end December 5, 2014. Verification of the production records will be required.


Microloans can be used for all approved operating expenses as authorized by the FSA Operating Loan Program, including but not limited to:

• Initial start-up expenses;

• Annual expenses such as seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents;

• Marketing and distribution expenses;

• Family living expenses;

• Purchase of livestock, equipment and other materials essential to farm operations;

• Minor farm improvements such as wells and coolers;

• Hoop houses to extend the growing season;

• Essential tools;

• Irrigation;

• Delivery vehicles.



Application Process

The application process for microloans will be simpler, requiring less paperwork to fill out, to coincide with the smaller loan amount that will be associated with microloans. Requirements for managerial experience and loan security have been modified to accommodate smaller farm operations, beginning farmers and those with no farm management experience.

FSA understands that there will be applicants for the ML program who want to farm but do not have traditional farm experience or have not been raised on a farm or within a rural community with agriculture-affiliated organizations. ML program applicants will need to have some farm experience; however, FSA will consider an applicant’s small business experience as well as any experience with a self-guided apprenticeship as a means to meet the farm management requirement. This will assist applicants who have limited farm skills by providing them with an opportunity to gain farm management experience while working with a mentor during the first production and marketing cycle.


Security Requirements

For annual operating purposes, microloans must be secured by a first lien on a farm property or agricultural products having a security value of at least 100 percent of the microloan amount, and up to 150 percent, when available. Microloans made for purposes other than annual operating expenses must be secured by a first lien on a farm property or agricultural products purchased with loan funds and having a security value of at least 100 percent of the microloan amount. 


Rates and Terms

Eligible applicants may obtain a microloan for up to $50,000. The repayment term may vary and will not exceed seven years. Annual operating loans are repaid within 12 months or when the agricultural commodities produced are sold.


Report perennial forages and fall seeded crops to FSA by December 15

Producers are reminded of the requirement to report their perennial forages and fall seeded crops by December 15, 2014 to their local FSA county office to meet FSA program eligibility requirements. FSA and the Risk Management Agency (RMA), which oversees the Federal Crop Insurance Program, now have common acreage reporting dates. Due to this, perennial forages and fall seeded small grains for harvest in 2015 must be reported to FSA by December 15, 2014.

Perennial forages include alfalfa, alfalfa grass mixtures, red clover, and others that are intended for harvest in 2015.  This also includes pasture acreage and cover crops.  Fall seeded small grains include winter wheat, rye and others.  Producers who are interested in participating in any 2015 USDA farm programs or just want to keep their acreage history up to date need to report the location, acreage and planting date of the applicable crop.

Producers with crop insurance must also report their applicable forages and fall seeded small grains to their insurance company.

Late-filed provisions may be available to producers who are unable to meet the reporting deadline as required. Filing an acreage report on these crops after the December 15, 2014 deadline will require the payment of a late-filing fee, which amounts to a minimum of $46 per FSA established farm number.