Reporting your crop acres to the Farm Service Agency (FSA) Office each year is one of the best financial decisions you can make for your farming operation. For most farmers, reporting crop acres is habit or tradition, however, if you don’t report your acres or have recently obtained a farm or the management of a farm, this week’s article will discuss why reporting is so important.
Almost all Federal Farm Programs administered by FSA and other USDA agencies require participants to report their crop acres. Some programs use the farm’s crop history to either determine program eligibility and/or the program benefits available for the farm.
For these reasons, maintaining your cropping history equals potential dollars for your farm. Even if you or your farm operator do not participate in Federal Farm Programs, it is important to maintain the cropping history. I tell my landowners and farmers that if you don’t report your crops, I get to decide if you participate in the programs, if you do report, you get to decide if you participate. By maintaining cropping history, your farm is easier to rent and will garner a higher rent than farms that do not maintain a history.
Landowners need to be aware if their operators are reporting the crops each year. If they are not, they can report crops grown on their farms. To determine if your farm’s cropping history is being maintained, simply call the FSA Office and ask. Some landowners require their operators to report acres to the FSA Office as a part of their rental agreements. Also, some County Auditors allow crop reports to be used as verification for CUAV property tax exemptions.
Reporting all cropland is essential, even if you are strictly a forage producer, establishing a cropping history may make you eligible for some programs and since a new Farm Bill is passed every five years, it is important to establish this history in the event a future farm program does meet your farming operation.
Reporting crop acreages is a relatively easy and quick process. On most farms the entire Office visit can be done in ten minutes per farm. To ensure the quickest crop reporting experience there are some items you should know, prior to visiting the Farm Service Agency Office. Know which fields are planted to what crops and their planting date. If you are reporting perennial crops such as forage, pasture, fruits, or Christmas trees, the planting date would be the initial planting of that crop.
Crops such as honeybees, aquaculture, maple syrup and nursery crops are also accepted and provide evidence for program participation. If a field is sub-divided, know how many acres are in each sub-section of the field. Make sure you also report the shares of each crop. If you cash rent your farm and receive zero shares of the growing crop, you are still entitled to report the acres for the land you own.
Due to the staffing levels, some offices require appointments for crop reporting, so call the office to determine your county’s policy. Calling the office can also reduce your office visits, especially for farms that are 100% forage and therefore do not rotate crops or replant crops annually. Many offices can handle these crop reports through the mail.
Accurate crop reports are important so verify that your total crop acreages are correct prior to signing your report. Check for accurate crop types, shares, and practice (irrigated/non-irrigated).
Crop reporting deadlines have recently changed for some crops in Ohio so be sure to call your FSA Office for your crop’s deadline. Most spring seeded Ohio crops have a July 15 deadline. If your crop is covered by RMA Crop Insurance, make sure you have the FSA Office provide you a copy of your farming operation’s “producer print” which can then be provided to your agent which will ensure each agency is using the same crop acreages.
That’s all for now,