What's Up at the USDA Office?

Upcoming Deadlines/Dates
December 26: Office Closed in Observance of Christmas
January 2: Office Closed in Observance of New Year’s Day

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, please call or stop in.

Progression Lending from FSA
Farm Service Agency (FSA) farm loans are considered progression lending. Unlike loans from a commercial lender, FSA loans are intended to be temporary in nature. Our goal is to help you graduate to commercial credit, and our farm loan staff is available to help borrowers through training and credit counseling.

The FSA team will help borrowers identify their goals to ensure financial success. FSA staff will advise borrowers on developing strategies and a plan to meet your goals and graduate to commercial credit. FSA borrowers are responsible for the success of their farming operation, but FSA staff will help in an advisory role, providing the tools necessary to help you achieve your operational goals and manage your finances.

For more information on FSA farm loan programs, contact the Farm Loan staff at (563) 382-8777.

USDA Opens People’s Garden Initiative to Gardens Nationwide
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expanding its People’s Garden Initiative to include eligible gardens nationwide.  School gardens, community gardens, urban farms, and small-scale agriculture projects in rural, suburban and urban areas can be recognized as a “People’s Garden” if they register on the USDA website and meet criteria including benefitting the community, working collaboratively, incorporating conservation practices and educating the public. Affiliate People’s Garden locations will be indicated on a map on the USDA website, featured in USDA communications, and provided with a People’s Garden sign.
About the Gardens
USDA originally launched the People’s Garden Initiative in 2009. It’s named for the “People’s Department,” former President Abraham Lincoln’s nickname for USDA, which was established during his presidency in 1862. People’s Gardens grow fresh, healthy food and support resilient, local food systems; teach people how to garden using conservation practices; nurture habitat for pollinators and wildlife and create greenspace for neighbors.   
How to Register
To learn more about People’s Garden or to register one, visit the People’s Garden webpage at usda.gov/Peoples-Garden. The location and information on each garden will be displayed on a map. USDA will send a “People’s Garden” sign to each garden and invite continued engagement through photos and information sharing. Gardens on federal property, such as USDA offices, are required to donate produce. We invite these gardens to report how much is being donated.

To be eligible, gardens:
• Benefit the community by providing food, green space, wildlife habitat, education space.
• Are a collaborative effort. This can include groups working together with USDA agencies, food banks, after school programs, Girl Scouts, Master Gardeners, conservation districts, etc.  
• Incorporate conservation management practices, such as using native plant species, rain barrels, integrated pest management, xeriscaping.
• Educate the public about sustainable gardening practices and the importance of local, diverse, and resilient food systems providing healthy food for the community.

New gardens will join the People’s Garden at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and 17 other flagship gardens established earlier this year.

Signup for the 2023 Dairy Margin Coverage Program began October 17 and runs through December 9.  Signup is voluntary unless you locked in coverage at the initial signup.  A decision tool has been created and can be found at https://dairymarkets.org.  This tool provides forecasted estimates of feed and milk prices through 2023, historical analysis of the program for the past 5 years, and remaining 2022 projections.  

Enrollment Begins for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs for 2023
Agricultural producers can now make elections and enroll in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2023 crop year. The signup period opened in October and runs through March 15, 2023.  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 2023 crop year closes March 15, 2023.

2023 Elections and Enrollment
Producers can elect coverage and enroll in crop-by-crop ARC-County or PLC, or ARC-Individual for the entire farm, for the 2023 crop year. Although election changes for 2023 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 2023, it will be necessary to sign a new contract. If an election is not submitted by the deadline of March 15, 2023, the election defaults to the current election for crops on the farm from the prior crop year.

Unauthorized Disposition of Grain Results in Financial Penalties
If loan grain has been disposed of through feeding, selling or any other form of disposal without prior written authorization from the county office staff, it is considered unauthorized disposition. The financial penalties for unauthorized dispositions are severe and your name will be placed on a loan violation list for a two-year period. Always call before you haul any grain under loan.

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 Ask the Expert: Customer Farm Records Mapping Q&A with Gwen Uecker on the Farmers.gov website, visit https://www.farmers.gov/blog/ask-the-expert-customer-farm-records-mappin....