Farm Program Signup Deadline June 1

Farm Program Signup Deadline June 1

Deadline to sign up for USDA 2011 farm program is June 1. You have to sign up for the DCP program each year if you wish to participate. If you're in the ACRE option, you're still required to enroll annually.

FAQ: What is the deadline to sign up for USDA's Direct and Countercyclical Payment (DCP) program? What about the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) option? I signed up last year for DCP/ACRE. Do I have to sign up every year?

Answer: Provided by Beth Grabau, public relations and outreach specialist at the USDA Farm Service Agency state office in Des Moines. Kevin McLure, program specialist at the Iowa FSA office, also helped answer these questions.

The deadline to sign up for USDA's farm program for 2011 is June 1. You have two options. You can sign up for the Direct and Countercyclical Payment Program (DCP) only, or sign up for DCP and then elect to enroll in the Average Crop Revenue Election or ACRE program.

A common question local Farm Service Agency offices are getting: I signed up for the DCP/ACRE program last year--do I have to sign up this year too? Do I have to do this every year?

You must sign up each year to participate that year

Sign up for the Direct and Countercyclical Payment (DCP) program occurs annually. You have to sign up each year if you want to participate that year. DCP contract signatures for enrollment are due in your local Farm Service Agency office by the end of the day on June 1.

What about ACRE? The signup to "elect" the ACRE option is also available through June 1 each year. Once you elect the ACRE option, you are committed to being in ACRE for the remainder of the 2008 Farm Bill, which ends in 2012. However, you are still required to "enroll" annually in ACRE by June 1, the same as with the DCP program.

If you have questions or need more information, always check with your local FSA office. Farm program information is also available online at www.fsa.usda.gov.

Question: Why can't the farm operator just sign the contract and be done with it? Why does FSA need other people's signatures?

DCP/ACRE contracts with FSA reflect the division or shares of the crops for a specific crop year. These contracts also identify the operators and owners of the farm for that same crop year. Due to potential changes in lease arrangements, ownership and operator changes, DCP/ACRE contracts are annual and are required to be completed each year. After the signatures that are required on the contracts have been obtained, and the contract has been approved by FSA, payments can be made.

FSA computes DCP program payments using base acres and payment yields established for each farm. Eligible producers receive direct payments at rates established by statute regardless of market prices. Each year you may request to receive advance direct payments based on 22% of the direct payment for each commodity associated with the farm. The remaining 78% of your DCP payment will be issued after October 1, 2011.

Eligible producers receive direct payments at rates established by statute regardless of market prices. Countercyclical payment rates vary depending on market prices and are issued only when the effective price for a commodity is set (by statute) below its target price.

Question: I'm still rounding up some of my DCP paperwork, and I'm busy with spring planting. What information do I need to provide to my local FSA office? What do I need to do to meet the signup deadline for 2011 farm program?

Signatures of all persons who "share" in the base acres on the farm are required by June 1. Operators who cash rent farms can provide FSA offices with a signed DCP contract for the cash rent landowner, submit cash rent statements signed by the landlord(s), or a signed cash rent certification. Cash rent items are needed by September 30. Sooner is better than later, however. Keep in mind payments can't be issued until all signatures on the DCP/ACRE contract have been received in the county office.

Question: A farm in ACRE is considered enrolled for the life of the Farm Bill. But I get confused on the terms "sign up" and "enroll." What's the difference? Why does a farmer have to sign up again or go to the FSA office and enroll the farm annually if the farm is already in ACRE?

This can be confusing. For ACRE, producers must first make the decision whether or not they want a farm elected into ACRE. Because of the multi-year commitment of the ACRE election for the farm, all owners and operators on the farm must agree to this election.

So that's the first step, everyone agreeing to the election for this farm. Once that decision is made, an annual ACRE enrollment contract will need to be filed for the farm just like the DCP program. This enrollment contract will reflect the division of shares of crops for a specific crop year and is the document that will initiate program payments when approved.

Question: I'm still trying to decide if I should enroll my farm(s) this year. What happens if you don't sign up for either the DCP or the ACRE program? What are the potential consequences?

DCP is an annual election. You may choose not to participate one year and that does not affect your eligibility for that program in future years. The annual signup for DCP/ACRE is voluntary each year. Therefore, producers are not required to sign up their farms each year I they don't want to. However, if a farm is enrolled in ACRE, production evidence is still required to be submitted by July 15 of the following year.

For crop year 2011, if a farm is enrolled into ACRE, production evidence must be submitted to FSA by July 15, 2012. If production evidence is not provided, the ACRE enrollment contract will be terminated, and the participant will forfeit all rights to payments under the ACRE enrollment contract. This includes the direct payment as well.

Producers who decide not to enroll in DCP/ACRE should be reminded about conservation compliance requirements. If they choose to enroll in future years, producers must be in compliance with the highly erodible and wetland conservation compliance provisions of the farm bill to be eligible for payment.

If you have specific questions or need details regarding USDA farm programs, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency office. You can also get news and information about DCP, ACRE and other USDA programs at www.fsa.usda.gov.

Two Iowa State University Extension Web sites have farm program information and analysis. They are ISU's Ag Decision Maker site at www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm and ISU Extension Specialist Steve Johnson's site at www.extension.iastate.edu/polk/farmmanagement.htm.

And be sure to read the regular column "Frequently Asked Questions about the Farm Program" that appears in each issue of Wallaces Farmer magazine and at www.WallacesFarmer.com

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