What's up at the FSA Office?

October 12: Office closed- Columbus Day.
November 11: Office closed - Veteran’s Day.
November 20: Deadline to sign up for the 2016 Dairy Program.
December 15: Deadline to certify hay/grass acres.
Forage (alfalfa), pasture, grass, and fall seed crops certification must be certified by December 15, 2015 for spring 2016 crop year. A late file fee will apply and no waivers will be granted. The late file fee will be $46 per farm.

USDA Extends Dairy Margin Protection Program Deadline
 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the deadline to enroll for the dairy Margin Protection Program for coverage in 2016 has been extended until November 20, 2015. The program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer.
“The fall harvest is a busy time of the year for agriculture, so this extension will ensure that dairy producers have more time to make their choices,” said Vilsack. “We encourage all operations to examine the protections offered by this program, because despite the very best forecasts, markets can change.”
Vilsack encouraged producers to use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Agency Service (FSA) online web resource at www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool to calculate the best levels of coverage for their dairy operation. The secure website can be accessed via computer, smartphone or tablet.
He also reminds producers that were enrolled in 2015 that they need to make a coverage election for 2016 and pay the $100 administration fee. Although any unpaid premium balances for 2015 must be paid in full by the enrollment deadline to remain eligible for higher coverage levels in 2016, premiums for 2016 are not due until Sept. 1, 2016
Payments under the program may be reduced by a certain percentage due to a sequester order required by Congress and issued pursuant to the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.  Should a payment reduction be necessary, FSA will reduce the payment by the required amount.

Farm Storage Facility Loans
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Farm Storage Facility Loan Program (FSFL) provides low-interest financing for producers to build or upgrade farm storage and handling facilities. FSA is authorized to implement the program through the USDA Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC).
The maximum loan amount is $500,000 per loan request. Loan terms are 7, 10 or 12 years depending on the amount of the loan. Each applicant will be charged a nonrefundable $100 application fee.
The following commodities are eligible:
• Corn, grain sorghum, rice, soybeans, oats, peanuts, wheat, barley, or minor oilseeds harvested as whole grain;
• Corn, grain sorghum, wheat, oats or barley harvested as other-than-whole grain;
• Other grains (triticale, speltz, and buckwheat);
• Pulse crops (lentils, chickpeas and dry peas);
• Hay;
• Honey;
• Renewable biomass;
• Fruits (includes nuts) and vegetables - cold storage facilities;
• Floriculture
• Hops;
• Maple sap;
• Milk;
• Cheese;
• Butter;
• Yogurt;
• Eggs;
• Meat/poultry (unprocessed);
• Rye and;
• Aquaculture (excluding systems that maintain live animals through uptake and discharge of water).
These loans must be approved by the local FSA state or county committee before any site preparation and/or construction can be started.
All loan requests are subject to an environmental evaluation. Accepting delivery of equipment, starting any site preparation, or construction before loan approval may impede the successful completion of an environmental evaluation and may adversely affect loan eligibility.
The following types of facilities and upgrades are eligible and must have a useful life of at least 15 years:
• New conventional cribs or bins;
• New oxygen-limiting structures and remanufactured oxygen-limiting structures;
• New flat-type storage structures;
• New electrical equipment and handling equipment, excluding the installation of electrical service to the electrical meter;
• New safety equipment, such as interior and exterior ladders and lighting;
• New equipment to improve, maintain or monitor the quality of stored grain;
• New concrete foundations, aprons, pits, and pads, including site preparation, off-farm labor and material, essential to the proper operation of the grain storage and handling equipment;
• Renovation of existing farm storage facilities, under certain circumstances, if the renovation is for maintaining or replacing items;
• New permanently affixed grain handling and grain drying equipment determined by CCC to be needed and essential to the proper operation of a grain storage system (with or without a loan for the storage facility);
• New structures that are bunker-type, horizontal or open silo structures, with at least two concrete walls and a concrete floor;
• New structures suitable for storing hay built according to acceptable design guidelines;
• New structures suitable for storing renewable biomass;
• New bulk tanks for storing milk;
 • New cold storage buildings, including prefabricated buildings that are suitable for storing fruits and vegetables. Also may include permanently affixed cooling, circulating and monitoring equipment and electrical equipment including labor and materials for installation of lights, motors and wiring integral to the proper operation of a cold storage facility.
Scales, portable equipment, used bins and used equipment are not eligible for financing.
Facilities built for commercial purposes and not for the sole use of the borrower(s) are not eligible for financing.
An eligible borrower is any person who is a landowner, landlord, leaseholder, tenant or sharecropper. Contact an FSA office for more details.
For more information contact the Allamakee County FSA Office at 563-568-2148.

Microloan Program
Microloans are a special subcategory of direct operating loans that provide flexible access to credit for small farming operations, including specialty, niche and local food producers. The Microloan Program simplifies the loan application process and reduces the paperwork burden substantially. It provides additional flexibility regarding certain loan eligibility requirements, reduces documentation requirements, and streamlines financial planning for small operations. Eligible applicants may obtain a microloan for up to $50,000. For more information, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/microloans.

Nonrecourse Marketing Assistance Loan (MAL) and Loan Deficiency Payment (LDP) Programs
MALs provide producers interim financing at harvest time to help them meet cash flow needs when market prices are typically at harvest-time lows. MALs for covered commodities are nonrecourse because the commodity is pledged as loan collateral and producers have the option of delivering the pledged collateral to the CCC as full payment for the loan at maturity. A producer who is eligible to obtain a loan, but who agrees to forgo the loan, may obtain an LDP. An LDP is the amount by which the applicable loan rate exceeds the alternative loan repayment rate for the respective commodity.
Allamakee County Loan Rates are as follows:
Corn - $1.87 per bushel
Oats - $1.43 per bushel
Soybeans - $4.99 per bushel
Barley - $1.70 per bushel

FSA is now accepting applications for all eligible commodities. For expedited service, interested producers are encouraged to schedule an appointment. Other program restrictions may apply, including limits on total payments or gross income thresholds. Consult with the Allamakee FSA office for further details. For more information, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/pricesupport.