Ask FSA Andy about farm bill programs

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Hello again, friends:

It’s Monday morning and I’m regretting that I didn’t write FSA Andy on Friday. I realize it should be easy to write about FSA stuff, since the content is usually so exciting. I guess this article will be a little bit of everything.

I went on vacation to avoid the rain, which I did, but when I came back, I was greeted with nonstop rain. I tried to mow between the rains, but I finally conceded to Mother Nature and put on rain gear and mowed in the rain. Doesn’t look good, but I wasn’t going to try to bale my lawn.

I know there are a lot of skeptics out there when it comes to discussions of global warming and its effects, but you will have to admit the weather has been anything but normal the last five years.

Wheat harvest

The wheat crop was looking decent and it appeared like harvest might take place early. So much for that. I’m hoping it can come off soon, as I have heard of some sprouting being found in wheat. The longer it’s drawn out, the bigger the magnifying glass at the grain buyers gets.

Deadline approaches

Crop acreage reporting is dragging out again. The delayed passing of the 2014 farm bill sure screwed everything up. I’m not sure the exact cause for producers not reporting, but every FSA office is struggling to get participants in.

If you recall, we took two years worth of ARC/PLC signup this late winter /early spring and to receive payments for the program, producers must report their crops. In some cases this means for both 2014 and 2015 crops.

This October, 2014 ARC/ PLC PAYMENTS are going to be made and from what I can tell, the program payments will be sizeable. So I recommend that if you read this and haven’t reported your acres, you need to call your local FSA office immediately and get this taken care of.

Dairy producers

The 2014 farm bill also created the Dairy Margin Protection Program. If you remember, this program has a $100 administrative fee for $4 per hundredweight coverage. There is a fee for every 50 cents in additional cwt. coverage that producers select.

Those who enrolled should have received a postcard telling them their yearly fee is due. Yes, that is correct. If you signed up, originally you enrolled through 2018 and will need to pay the fee or be in violation of your contract.

Producers can also decide if they want to up their coverage or if you are a new dairy producer you can now sign up. The deadline for taking care of this is Sept. 30.

Disaster events

The 2014 farm bill also created permanent disaster legislation for damages caused by adverse weather conditions. LIP, or Livestock Indemnity Program, covers death losses of above normal mortality. ELAP covers a variety of losses; losses of mechanically harvested forage and feedstuff, honey bee losses and others. LFP, or Livestock Forage Programs, cover drought losses — that isn’t happening this year.

The main thing to remember is these losses need to be reported to your FSA office within 30 days. Keeping your local FSA office informed of losses or damages created by adverse weather is critical to receiving assistance.

Not sure the loss is something we cover? It’s better to call than to ignore these programs. They have been put in place to assist farmers.

COC nomination

Ever thought of serving on the local FSA committee? The election of agricultural producers to Farm Service Agency county committees is important to farmers. Can you think of any other government agency that allows locally elected people to make decisions for the federal government? I can’t. Usually it’s bureaucrats like me. Just kidding. Sort of.

It is crucial that every eligible producer participate in these elections because FSA county committees are a link between the agricultural community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. County committee members help deliver FSA farm programs at the local level. Farmers and producers who serve on county committees help with the decisions necessary to administer the programs in their counties.

FSA county committee members make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs and other important agricultural issues. Members serve three-year terms. Each county is broken up into LAAs, three or five, depending on if a county is a combination or not. This is an attempt to try and have members who have knowledge of the local producers in the area they serve. This helps in rendering decisions that affect participants.

The pay is decent (there is food to eat at the meetings). You probably will get to hear about programs a little sooner and not have to feel bad about asking questions. If adverse decisions are made, nobody will hold you responsible as I have to wear the black hat and deliver the bad news.

Contact your local FSA office and see which area is having an election this year. It could be life altering. That may be stretching things a bit. Sorta sounds like a used car salesman.

The COC nomination period runs through August 3, 2015. The nomination form is available at USDA Service Centers and online.

That’s all for now,
FSA Andy

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

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