What's Up at the USDA Office?

Upcoming Deadlines/Dates
February 4: Organic and Transition Education Certification Program (FY20, FY21)
February 18: Dairy Margin Coverage Program
February 25: Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program
March 15: ARCPLC Program Deadline

Conservation Reserve Contractors
With just over 17,000 acres in CRP throughout Allamakee County, contract holders are constantly looking for folks who can help complete establishment or maintenance activities. If you are someone who can help with these services (seeding, mowing, spraying, burning, pruning, etc.) please contact our office so we can get you added to our contractors list.

Enrollment Begins for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs for 2022
Agricultural producers can now make elections and enroll in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2022 crop year. The signup period opened Monday, Oct. 18.  These key U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) safety-net programs help producers weather fluctuations in either revenue or price for certain crops. Enrollment for the 2022 crop year closes March 15, 2022.

Producers can elect coverage and enroll in crop-by-crop ARC-County or PLC, or ARC-Individual for the entire farm, for the 2022 crop year. Although election changes for 2022 are optional, enrollment (signed contract) is required for each year of the program. If a producer has a multi-year contract on the farm and makes an election change for 2022, it will be necessary to sign a new contract. If an election is not submitted by the deadline of March 15, 2022, the election defaults to the current election for crops on the farm from the prior crop year.

USDA Provides Additional Pandemic Assistance to Hog Producers
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a new program to assist hog producers who sold hogs through a negotiated sale during the period in which these producers faced the greatest reduction in market prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program (SMHPP) is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative and addresses gaps in previous assistance for hog producers. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept applications Dec. 15, 2021 through Feb. 25, 2022.

SMHPP provides assistance to hog producers who sold hogs through a negotiated sale from April 16, 2020 through Sept. 1, 2020. Negotiated sale, or negotiated formula sale, means a sale of hogs by a producer to a packer under which the base price for the hogs is determined by seller-buyer interaction and agreement on a delivery day. USDA is offering SMHPP as packer production was reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic due to employee illness and supply chain issues, resulting in fewer negotiated hogs being procured and subsequent lower market prices.  

“Previous pandemic assistance used flat rates across the hog industry, and this didn’t take into account the various levels of harm felt by different producers,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “We worked closely with industry partners and USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service to target assistance to hog producers who were hit the hardest during the pandemic. This is one more example of our efforts to provide new, broader, and more equitable opportunities for farmers, ranchers and producers.”

Eligible hogs include hogs sold through a negotiated sale by producers between April 16, 2020, and September 1, 2020. Breeding stock are not eligible.  To be eligible, the producer must be a person or legal entity who has ownership in the hogs and whose production facilities are located in the United States, including U.S. territories. Contract producers and packers are not eligible for SMHPP. 

SMHPP payments will be calculated by multiplying the number of head of eligible hogs, not to exceed 10,000 head, by the payment rate of $54 per head. FSA will issue payments to eligible hog producers as applications are received and approved.  

USDA Opens 2022 Sign-up for Dairy Margin Coverage, Expands Program for Supplemental Production
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened sign-up for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program and expanded the program to allow dairy producers to better protect their operations by enrolling supplemental production. This signup period – which runs from Dec. 13, 2021 to Feb. 18, 2022 – enables producers to get coverage through this important safety-net program for another year as well as get additional assistance through the new Supplemental DMC.

Supplemental DMC will provide $580 million to better help small-sized and mid-sized dairy operations that have increased production over the years but were not able to enroll the additional production. Now, they will be able to retroactively receive payments for that supplemental production. Additionally, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) updated how feed costs are calculated, which will make the program more reflective of actual dairy producer expenses.

Eligible dairy operations with less than 5 million pounds of established production history may enroll supplemental pounds based upon a formula using 2019 actual milk marketings, which will result in additional payments. Producers will be required to provide FSA with their 2019 Milk Marketing Statement.

Supplemental DMC coverage is applicable to calendar years 2021, 2022 and 2023. Participating dairy operations with supplemental production may receive retroactive supplemental payments for 2021 in addition to payments based on their established production history.

After making any revisions to 2021 DMC contracts for Supplemental DMC, producers can sign up for 2022 coverage. DMC provides eligible dairy producers with risk management coverage that pays producers when the difference between the price of milk and the cost of feed falls below a certain level. So far in 2021, DMC payments have triggered for January through October for more than $1.0 billion.

For DMC enrollment, producers must certify with FSA that the operation is commercially marketing milk, sign all required forms and pay the $100 administrative fee. The fee is waived for farmers who are considered limited resource, beginning, socially disadvantaged, or a military veteran. To determine the appropriate level of DMC coverage for a specific dairy operation, producers can use the online dairy decision tool.

Organic and Transitional Education and  Certification Program
Are you a producer or handler of agricultural commodities that are certified organic? Or, are you transitioning your operation to certified organic? You may be eligible for financial assistance to cover expenses paid during the 2020, 2021, and 2022 fiscal years through USDA’s Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP). This new program is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, certified organic and transitional operations faced loss of markets, increased costs, labor shortages, and expenses related to obtaining or renewing their organic certification. Transitional operations also faced the financial challenge of implementing practices required to obtain organic certification without the premium prices associated with certified organic commodities.

Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program provides up to $20 million to reimburse agricultural producers and handlers who are certified organic and crop and livestock producers who are transitioning to organic for eligible expenses incurred during fiscal years 2020, 2021, and/or 2022. The date ranges for these time periods are:

• Fiscal Year 2020: October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020
• Fiscal Year 2021: October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021
• Fiscal Year 2022: October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022.

Certification costs for crops, livestock, wild crops, handling, and state fees are eligible for up to 25% reimbursement (not to exceed $250). These payments consider any prior payments received under the Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (OCCSP).

If you are a producer transitioning to organic, up to 75% (not to exceed $750) of your eligible expenses can be reimbursed.  These can include fees for pre-certification inspection, soil testing through USDA NOP, registration fees for educational events, and the development of organic system plans.

You must be a certified operation or a crop or livestock transitional operation at the time of application. Operations with suspended, revoked, denied, or withdrawn USDA organic certifications at the time of application are ineligible for Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program.

The Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program application period for program years 2020 and 2021 is November 8, 2021, through February 4, 2022. The application period for program year 2022 will be announced at a later date.