What's Up at the USDA Office?

Upcoming Deadlines/Dates
May 15 – August 1: Primary Nesting Season – No MCM work on CRP acres
May 26 – August 28: Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Signup
June 30: 2020 ARCPLC Election
July 15: Crop Certification
September 30: PLC Yield Update

Environmental Review Required Before Project Implementation
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires Federal agencies to consider all potential environmental impacts for federally-funded projects before the project is given approval. For all Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs, an environmental review must be completed before actions are approved, such as site preparation or ground disturbance. These programs include, but are not limited to, the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program, Conservation Reserve Program, and farm loans. If project implementation begins before FSA has completed an environmental review, this will result in a denial of the request. There are exceptions regarding the Stafford Act and emergencies. It is important to wait until you receive written approval of your project proposal before starting any actions, including, but not limited to, vegetation clearing, site preparation or ground disturbance.

Remember to contact your local FSA office early in your planning process to determine what level of environmental review is required for your program application so that it can be completed timely. Applications cannot be approved contingent upon the completion of an environmental review. FSA must have copies of all permits and plans before an application can be given approval.

Payments to Deceased Producers
In order to claim a Farm Service Agency (FSA) payment on behalf of a deceased producer, all program conditions for the payment must have been met before the applicable producer’s date of death. If a producer earned a FSA payment prior to his or her death, the following is the order of precedence for the representatives of the producer:
• administrator or executor of the estate
• the surviving spouse
• surviving sons and daughters, including adopted children
• surviving father and mother
• surviving brothers and sisters
• heirs of the deceased person who would be entitled to payment according to the State law

For FSA to release the payment, the legal representative of the deceased producer must file a form FSA-325, to claim the payment for themselves or an estate. The county office will verify and determine that the application, contract, loan agreement, or other similar form requesting payment issuance, was signed by the applicable deadline for such form, by the deceased or a person legally authorized to act on their behalf at that time of application. If the application, contract or loan agreement form was signed by someone other than the participant who is deceased, FSA will determine whether the person submitting the form has the legal authority to submit the form to compel FSA to pay the deceased participant. Payments will be issued to the respective representative’s name using the deceased program participant’s tax identification number. Payments made to representatives are subject to offset regulations for any debts that may be owed by the deceased. FSA is not responsible for advising persons in obtaining legal advice on how to obtain program benefits that may be due to a participant who has died, disappeared or who has been declared incompetent.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)
www.farmers.gov/cfap
Between May 26 and August 28, FSA will be accepting applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap.  Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested. CFAP provides vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five percent-or-greater price decline due to COVID-19 and face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities. A full list of eligible commodities and payment rates can be found on www.farmers.gov/cfap.

Sign Up for the 2020 ARCPLC Program by June 30!
We mailed out the remaining ARCPLC contracts earlier this spring for farms that still need to be enrolled for the 2020 program year.  A postcard reminder was mailed to those folks that we were still waiting for theirs to come back.  So, if you received a postcard, please review the previous letter and contract to ensure everything is completed correctly. If you have any questions, or need the contract modified, call our office. The deadline to get these approved is June 30, so don’t delay in getting these back to us. 

CRP Reminders
The primary nesting season runs from May 15 – August 1. Please contact the FSA office if you need to perform spot maintenance activities on your CRP acres during this time. Cosmetic mowing of your CRP acres is always prohibited, but you can spot treat areas that are threatened by undesirable vegetation throughout the year. A written request must be made before the County Committee grants approval to conduct maintenance during the nesting season. As a reminder, volunteer trees and woody vegetation must be controlled and removed from CRP acres. Failure to control undesirable vegetation on CRP can result in financial penalties.

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