John Whitaker, state executive director for USDA's Farm Service Agency in Iowa, reminds farmers that planted acres must be reported to FSA by July 15, 2014. Now is the time to do it -- as soon as you are finished planting, he says. The Agricultural Act of 2014 (the new farm bill) requires accurate and timely filed acreage reports for all crops and land uses, including prevented and failed acreage as well as Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, acres.
"Historically acreage certification has been a requirement to be eligible for USDA programs and although some federal farm program sign-ups have not yet started, timely acreage reports submitted to your local FSA office will be important to ensuring program eligibility," says Whitaker.
2014 Farm Bill program eligibility requires acreage certification
Acreage reports are considered timely filed when completed by the applicable final crop reporting deadline, which may vary from state to state. Prevented planting acreage must be reported within 15 calendar days after the final planting date. Failed acreage must be reported before the disposition of the crop. "Producers should contact their county FSA office if they are uncertain about reporting deadlines," he says.
"Producers should visit their county FSA office to complete acreage reporting," adds Whitaker. "For questions on this or any FSA program, including specific crop reporting deadlines and planting dates, producers should contact their county FSA office." More information on FSA programs can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov. Local FSA office contact information can be found at offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.
Also need to report to FSA any changes in farm ownership
Once you've certified your 2014 planted acres, the next thing you should do is notify your county FSA office if you've had any changes in your operation, such as ownership or renting land or changes in the amount of land your farm. "Our county office staff is going to have to go back and make sure everything is accurate in our FSA records for your farming operation back to 2008," explains Whitaker.
"For example, if a farm has changed ownership. We need to make that acreage base update so farmers can make their farm program choice or election when that time comes, to decide what USDA farm program they want to have that farm participate in. Farm operators and landowners will have to make that decision sometime this fall, the USDA secretary has told us. So producers need to give us the information regarding changes in their farm ownership as soon as possible."
Get ready to learn about new farm programs USDA is offering
Extension services around the country, Iowa State University included, are gearing up to hold meeting for farmers later this summer and in the fall to explain the new farm programs in the 2014 Farm Bill. The purpose of these meetings is to help farmers get information and understand their farm program options, and decide which program they want to participate in, says Whitaker.
USDA wants to get that information about the new farm program options out to the public and to farmers. A website is being developed which will also be used to help farmers make the right choice in their farm program decisions. This will be an online tool for producers. Iowa State University farm management specialists will be involved in the development of this website and will help instruct farmers on how to use it.
FSA County Committee nomination period begins June 15
Whitaker also reminds farmers that U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the nomination period for local FSA county committees begins June 15, 2014. "County committees are a vital link between the farm community and USDA," said Vilsack. "I hope every eligible farmer and rancher will participate in this year's county committee elections. Through the county committees, farmers and ranchers have a voice; their opinions and ideas get to be heard regarding what they think about federal farm programs, and ideas to improve them."
Vilsack added, "We've seen an increase in recent years in the number of nominations of women and minority candidates, and I hope that trend continues."
To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area where the person is nominated.
Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others. Organizations representing minorities and women also may nominate candidates. To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign the nomination form, FSA-669A.
FSA county committees help oversee USDA farm programs
The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. Nomination forms for the 2014 FSA county election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 1, 2014. Elections will take place this fall.
While FSA county committees do not approve or deny farm ownership or operating loans, they make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs and other agricultural issues. Members serve three-year terms. Nationwide, there are about 7,800 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees. Committees consist of three to 11 members that are elected by eligible producers.
FSA will mail ballots to eligible voters beginning Nov. 3, 2014. Ballots are due back to the local county office either via mail or in person by Dec. 1, 2014. Newly-elected committee members and alternates take office on Jan. 1, 2015.