What's up at the FSA Office?

by Jeremy Leitz, Allamakee County Executive Director (563) 568-2148

Upcoming Deadlines and Important Dates
· ARC/PLC Sign-up: August 1
· Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP): March 15: Spring-seeded crops including but not limited to sweet corn, onions, carrots, green beans, and pumpkins. Eligible producers must apply for coverage and pay the applicable service fees annually by the application closing date. Acreage reports are also due annually. Coverage for specific crops may be checked online at www.fsa.usda.gov/nap.
· The Marketing Assistance Loans (MAL) and Loan Deficiency Payments (LDP): March 31: Prior year harvested wheat, barley, canola, crambe, flaxseed, honey, oats, rapeseed and sesame; May 31: Prior year harvested corn, soybeans, and other oilseeds, grain sorghum, and pulse crops
Visit the Allamakee County FSA office for a full customer calendar with program deadlines, NAP crop closure dates, observed holidays and more.
Any producer who experiences an ownership or operating change, purchases or acquires new land, or establishes a trust or legal entity is asked to notify the FSA office as soon as possible after the change has occurred.  The sooner this information is shared with the FSA office, the sooner the office can process and update the changes and prevent issues that may arise later in the year.
Farm Storage Facility Loans
Producers needing additional storage or handling equipment may be eligible to apply for the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA’s) Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program.  The FSFL program provides low-interest financing to producers to build or upgrade storage facilities and to purchase portable (new or used) structures, equipment and storage and handling trucks.
Producer eligibility requirements must be met in order to be eligible to apply:
· Produce an eligible commodity such as, but not limited to, grain, hay, honey, milk, fruits, and vegetables
· Demonstrates the need for storage
· Satisfactory credit rating and ability to repay
· No delinquent federal debts
· Applicable insurance (crop, flood, automotive, etc.)
· Compliance with farming conservation plan
Eligible facility types may be permanently affixed or portable, new or used, and include grain bins, hay barns, bulk tanks, and facilities for cold storage, storage and handling equipment and trucks.  A producer can borrow up to $500,000 on a regular FSFL and $50,000 for a FSFL microloan.  Producers can select a 3, 5, 7, 10, or 12 year term to repay the loan depending on the amount borrowed.  Interest rates are fixed for the term of the loan.  Applicants are required to pay a minimum down payment of 15% towards a regular FSFL and 5% down on a microloan.  A nonrefundable $100 application fee will be collected.
New Actively Engaged Provisions for Non-Family Joint Operations or Entities
Many Farm Service Agency programs require all program participants, either individuals or legal entities, to be “actively engaged in farming”. This means participants provide a significant contribution to the farming operation, whether it is capital, land, equipment, active personal labor and/or management. For entities, each partner, stockholder or member with an ownership interest, must contribute active personal labor and/or management to the operation on a regular basis.

The 2014 Farm Bill established additional payment eligibility provisions relating to the farm management component of meeting “actively engaged in farming”. These new provisions apply to joint operations comprised of non-family members or partners, stockholders or persons with an ownership in the farming operation. Effective for 2016 and subsequent crop years, non-family joint operations are afforded to one member that may use a significant contribution of active personal management exclusively to meet the requirements to be determined “actively engaged in farming”. The person or member will be defined as the Farm Manager for the purposes of administering these new management provisions.

In some instances, additional persons or members of a non-family member joint operation who meet the definition of Farm Manager may also be allowed to use such a contribution of active personal management to meet the eligibility requirements. However, under no circumstances may the number of Farm Managers in a non-family joint operation exceed a total of three in any given crop and program year.
USDA’s Farm Service Agency Expands Bridges to Opportunity Nationwide
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced the expansion of a unique service for farmers and ranchers. FSA’s Bridges to Opportunity program provides a one-stop-shop that connects producers with resources, programs and educational services offered across the department, as well as from other USDA partner organizations. Bridges to Opportunity, which currently provides enhanced customer support to more than 150,000 customers in 20 states, will expand to serve customers across the country before the end of the month using fiscal year 2016 funds.

FSA’s presence in over 2,100 county offices, in nearly every rural county, puts the agency in a unique position to partner with non-governmental organizations to reach thousands of agricultural producers who can benefit from the programs and services.  Bridges to Opportunity was developed by FSA to provide producers with a more comprehensive customer service experience by connecting them with other USDA agencies and nonfederal partners. Through Bridges to Opportunity, FSA county office employees have the tools to connect farmers, ranchers and anyone interested in agriculture with customized expertise on topics ranging including organic production, beginning farmer resources, integrated pest management, disaster assistance, conservation practices, agricultural educational courses, loans, grants and other financial assistance that can start, grow or benefit farming and ranching operations.

For more information or any questions related to FSA programs, please contact the Allamakee County FSA office at (563) 568-2148.