What's Up at the FSA Office?

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

Upcoming Changes to the Margin Protection Program
A few weeks back a spending bill to further fund the government was signed by the President. Part of that bill contained changes to the Margin Protection Program, a USDA program for dairy producers. While at this time we do not know specific changes, we do know the following:

• There will be a new sign-up for the 2018 calendar year in the very near future, but we don’t know when yet
• Payment periods will be calculated 12 times a year instead of 6
• First tier production level has increased from 4 million to 5 million pounds
• Premium fees for the first tier have been substantially reduced.
• The $100 administrative fee has been waived for the socially disadvantaged, beginning, veteran, and limited resource producers.

If you have any questions about the MPP program, please call our office at (563) 568-2148.

Mid-Contract Management (MCM) on CRP Acres
As we start to see warmer temps and melting snow, please start thinking about your MCM, if you are scheduled for this year. Those that are scheduled for this year would have received a packet from our office this past fall detailing what needs to be done. You do have until May 14, 2018 to complete the work, but now is a good time to start lining up contractors if you haven’t already done so, buy seed if needed, and get equipment ready. If you have technical questions, need a seeding plan, or contractor list please contact the NRCS office. Any other questions can be directed to FSA.

Once you complete your MCM, please notify the FSA office, sign the FSA-848B form, and provide acceptable evidence of practice completion to determine proper cost share payment.

No MCM can be performed during the CRP nesting or brood rearing season of May 15 – August 2. Participants with maintenance issues that require attention prior to the end of nesting season must contact the county FSA office for permission prior to performing any spot spraying or spot mowing on CRP acres. Failure to contact the county FSA office prior to any maintenance on CRP acres during nesting season may result in payment reductions or possible contract termination.

March Facility Loan Interest Rates
The interest rates for January are as follows:

• 2.250% for 3 years
• 2.500% for 5 years
• 2.750% for 7 years
• 2.750% for 10 years
• 2.750% for 12 years
• 2.875% for 15 years

Maintenance of CRP Acres
Please monitor your CRP acres that are in a grass practice, such as a CP1, CP2, or CP8A, for trees growing in them. These trees need to be removed to stay in compliance, and be eligible for reenrollment, if a sign-up were to occur. Trees in the proposed acres could negatively impact whether you qualify for another contract with FSA. No matter your practice, it is always a good idea to periodically check your acres to make sure they are in compliance. 

Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC)
Due to the topography of Allamakee County, many farms have highly erodible land. These fields must be following conservation plans that are established by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). If you are not following your soil saving plan, you may be in violation of the HELC provisions. Violations could have fines up to $10,000 per farm and prevent you from obtaining all government payments. We encourage you to be cautious when developing your tillage plans for the upcoming crop year. If you haven’t reviewed your conservation plan in a while, it’s time to do so. Stop at the USDA Service Center to review plans on all the land you operate.