What's Up at the USDA Office?

Upcoming Deadlines/Dates
October 31: Organic Certification Cost-Share and Transition/Education Certification Program

Farm Loan Presence in Allamakee County
The USDA/FSA Farm Loan team will have a Loan Officer in our office every Tuesday during normal business hours (8-4:30).  If you would like to visit with the loan officer, call or stop.

County Committee (COC) Election
It’s that time of year when FSA begins the process of the county committee election.  This year the election will be for LAA -1, which includes French Creek, Hanover, Makee, Waterloo, Union City, Union Prairie townships.  Essentially the NW portion of the county. The nomination period begins June and runs through early August.  You can nominate yourself or someone else by completing the appropriate form at our office or download it online. Once nominations are finalized, producers who reside in LAA-1 will cast ballots which will be mailed to you in November.  These ballots are due back to the FSA office by early December.  The elected member will take office on January 1.  Eligible households in these townships should have received an informational postcard.  

Ask the Expert: Customer Farm Records Mapping Q&A with Gwen Uecker
In this Ask the Expert, Gwen Uecker answers a few questions about USDA’s farmers.gov customer portal. Gwen serves as the Team Lead for the Program Delivery Division (PDD), Common Processes Branch for the Deputy Administrator of Farm Program within Farm Service Agency (FSA). She helps lead PDD’s effort to provide personalized customer information via farmers.gov. A farmers.gov account provides self-service opportunities to FSA and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) customers via a secure authenticated access process.

What is the value of Customer Farm Records Mapping and why should producers use farmers.gov?
Customer Farm Records Mapping (cFRM) provides you with self-help options and access to FSA data from home 24/7. For example, you do not have to wait for FSA to mail out maps for acreage reporting or make a special trip to the office to pick up your maps. You can print farm tract maps directly from farmers.gov. New features include the ability to import precision agriculture planting boundaries and create labels containing crop information that can be printed on-farm tract maps. The maps can then be provided to FSA at the local USDA Service Center for completing the annual crop acreage report. You can use the draw tools to determine acres in a drawn area. The drawn area can be printed on a map and provided to the Service Center, a third party such as a chemical applicator, or exported as a feature file for use in other geospatial applications.

In addition, you can “Switch Profile” to view cFRM data for individuals or entities you are authorized to act on behalf of. This means you can view and print maps for your entity’s farms. Producers can also view and print farm records details, including base and yield information (FSA-156EZ). The FSA Farm Records Mapping page is accessed by clicking the blue “View Farm Records” button from the farmers.gov LAND tab. To read the full blog visit Ask the Expert: Customer Farm Records Mapping Q&A with Gwen Uecker | Farmers.gov.

CRP Reminders
The primary nesting season ended August 1, so contract-holders can complete and maintenance on CRP without prior approval from their FSA office.  Please remember that cosmetic mowing of your CRP acres is always prohibited, as are the establishment of trails through your acres.  Temporary deer stands are only allowed during the hunting season and must be removed immediately once the season is over.  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.

Beginning Farmer Loan Opportunity
Accessing capital to begin, extend or support an agriculture operation can be especially challenging to new producers.  Farm Service Agency’s “Beginning Farmer” direct and guaranteed loan programs provide an opportunity for qualified applicants to secure loans from funding set aside for producers who meet the following conditions:
• Has operated a farm for not more than 10 years
• Will materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm
• Agrees to participate in a loan assessment, borrower training and financial management program sponsored by FSA
• Does not own a farm in excess of 30 percent of the county’s average size farm.

For more information contact, contact the Allamakee County USDA Service Center at 563-568-2148 or visit fsa.usda.gov.

USDA Accepting Applications to Help Cover Costs of Organic, Transitioning Producers
Agricultural producers and handlers who are certified organic, along with producers and handlers who are transitioning to organic production, can now apply for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Organic and Transitional Education Certification Program (OTECP) and Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP), which help producers and handlers cover the cost of organic certification, along with other related expenses. Applications for OTECP and OCCSP are both due October 31, 2022.

OTECP covers:  
• Certification costs for organic producers and handlers (25% up to $250 per category).
• Eligible expenses for transitional producers, including fees for pre-certification inspections and development of an organic system plan (75% up to $750).
• Registration fees for educational events (75% up to $200).
• Soil testing (75% up to $100).  

Meanwhile, OCCSP covers 50% or up to $500 per category of certification costs in 2022.

This cost share for certification is available for each of these categories: crops, wild crops, livestock, processing/handling and State organic program fees.   

Producers can receive cost share through both OTECP and OCCSP. Both OTECP and OCCSP cover costs incurred from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022.  Producers have until October 31, 2022 to file applications, and FSA will make payments as applications are received.

To apply, producers and handlers should contact the Farm Service Agency (FSA) at their local USDA Service Center. As part of completing the OCCSP applications, producers and handlers will need to provide documentation of their organic certification and eligible expenses. Organic producers and handlers may also apply for OCCSP through participating State agencies. Additional details can be found on the Organic and Transitional Education Certification Program and Organic Certification Cost Share Program webpages.