As federal policies change, make sure you’re still eligible

Hello again!

Planning ahead used to be in my vocabulary, but that was before I had children. Now I feel like I fly by the seat of my pants and I only plan one day at a time and that is usually done the night before, as I drift off to sleep. I have noticed more and more that we do not tend to plan ahead for anything.

I am not sure why we have become this type of society, but I think it’s because of our immediate forms of communication. We can send out an email in a flash, and send 20 texts out in under a minute.

Times have changed. We no longer rely on good, old-fashioned, personal phone calls, or mailing a letter. A decision is made and within minutes that decision is out there in our world. Don’t get me wrong; I really like my super-fast forms of communication, but I also think it has damaged many aspects of our society.

It leads to the fear of the unknown, due to decisions being made at the last minute. I also think it creates bad decision making because it may be based on your most current knowledge, though another decision is already being made which could change everything.

As your local FSA offices are waiting for the farm bill information to start trickling down to the local level, we are making decisions based on trends we have seen in the past. We are gearing up making sure that when something comes along that we can share, we can get it out in the quickest time possible.

Stay informed

One way to do that is by signing up for GOV Delivery at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/subscribe. We also have some common threads that we will continue to see in the year to come which is conservation compliance. The 1985 Farm Bill established the conservation compliance requirements for producers utilizing USDA benefits.Although the provisions have been amended through other legislations and new farm bills, the sodbuster and swampbuster provisions remain in effect today for producers applying for certain USDA benefits.

Stay current

These are questions you should ask yourself each year to assure you remain eligible for USDA benefits:

• Do you intend to clear timber areas or house lots to create or expand existing cropland?• Are you converting a pasture field into cropland?

• Are you filling in an existing waterway to increase cropland?• Are there areas on your farm(s) that you are considering cropping that have not been cropped in recent years?

• Are you planning any drainage projects such as installing new tile or grading wet-spots in a field?• Are you planning on clearing a fence row in order to bring new land into production?  (It’s OK to clean brush from fence rows as long as it is not increasing cropland).

Following rules

It is important for landowners to understand that even though you own your farm(s), there are federal conservation compliance regulations in place in the expiring farm bill and all future farm bills.

These compliance rules must be followed if you receive USDA program benefits.Landowners who do not receive federal program benefits: Do you rent your farm(s) out and only your farm operator receives government payments?

In this case, if compliance violations occur on your farm, your farm operator could be penalized on your farm and every other farm he/she owns and operates even across county and state lines.

It is critical that all land operators communicate with their landowners and make sure the necessary paperwork and steps are followed before any of the above mentioned work is started.

Failure to comply with sodbuster or swampbuster provisions can result in loss of USDA benefits.That’s all for now,FSA Andy

About the Author

FSA Andy is written by USDA Farm Service Agency county executive directors in northeastern Ohio. More Stories by FSA Andy

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