FAQ: I'm selling my farm to my nephew. When do I need to report that information to my local Farm Service Agency office? Does FSA have a power-of-attorney form I can use?
Answer: Land is being transferred to the next generation. In many cases, those that have inherited the land are spread out across the county, and in some cases, in other counties, or the tract of land now has multiple owners. For those who find it difficult to visit the county office personally because of work schedules, distance, health, etc., USDA's Farm Service Agency has a power-of-attorney form available that enables you to designate another person to conduct your business at the office. If you are interested, contact your local FSA office for more information.
Beth Grabau, public information and outreach specialist at the state FSA office in Des Moines, answers the following commonly asked questions on this and related topics.
Question: What are the basic provisions of FSA's power-of- attorney, or POA, forms? I rent one of my farms from my Dad and a few years ago our family attorney completed a bar association POA for my father. Can that be used in FSA offices in the future when needed?
Answer: In general, we must remember POA's are only valid if the organization where the POA is being presented will accept it. Persons wishing to appoint an attorney-in-fact to act on their behalf for FSA and CCC programs must complete an FSA-211, which is FSA's power-of-attorney form. These forms aren't required and are an individual choice to allow someone to sign on your behalf.
FSA's POA form lists the programs and actions for which the POA can be executed. Since each individual granting the POA chooses what programs and actions the attorney-in-fact will be authorized to sign, the actions authorized can be very restrictive, such as, a landowner only allowing the DCP contract to be signed on a specific farm number. Or individuals can allow all documents to be signed by choosing: all current and future programs and all actions. A separate FSA-211 needs to be completed for each separate grantor or attorney-in-fact.
To be valid, the FSA-211 signatures may either be witnessed by an FSA employee or by a notary. With locations throughout the nation, individuals can visit any office to have forms witnessed and then mailed to the applicable county office.
Some actions do not fall under the FSA-211; these include county committee elections, executing another FSA-211, requesting electronic access (eGov), the Adjusted Gross Income Forms (CCC-931 and CCC-933), and for Farm Loan Program documents. At times, FSA assists with the administration of programs that aren't an FSA, CCC, or NRCS program; therefore the FSA-211 form wouldn't be valid for these programs. It should be noted that minors cannot execute this form.
POA's completed on forms other than the FSA-211 are only accepted in very limited circumstances.
Question: Do I need to complete a POA so my spouse can sign documents in your FSA office?
Answer: Generally, spouses can sign for each other without the use of an FSA-211, with these exceptions:
* Spouses may sign documents on behalf of each other for FSA and CCC programs in which either has an interest in the farm, unless written notification denying a spouse this authority has been provided to the county office.
* Spouses shall not sign on behalf of each other as an authorized signatory for partnerships, joint ventures, corporations, or other similar entities.
* Spouses shall not sign on behalf of each other on a CCC-931 or CCC-933, "Average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Certification and Consent to Disclosure of Tax Information".
* Individual signatures are also required on Farm Loan Program documents.
Question: Why am I being asked to sign more than one of these forms?
Answer: A separate form needs to be completed for each position or capacity for which the person may need to grant a POA. An individual may have farming interests in their own individual name as well as in a family trust. In this case, an FSA-211 would need to be filed as an individual and on a separate form in the capacity of the trustee for the family trust. FSA-211's may be needed for members of the corporation or other legal entities to allow one person to file needed forms for farm program participation or payment.
Question: What if I want to make changes to the existing form I have on file? How long is this power of attorney in affect? When and how do I cancel an existing POA?
Answer: Changes can be made to the FSA-211 at any time; however, changes do require that a new form be submitted.
The FSA-211 remains in full force and effect until the person granting the power of attorney cancels it in writing. The written notification can be done in one of two ways, by either providing written notification to FSA or by writing "cancelled" on the original form which was signed and dated. The form also becomes invalid if the grantor or the appointed attorney-in-fact dies, becomes incompetent or incapacitated, or the entity dissolves, in the case of a legal entity.
Question: My mother has always been able to sign FSA documents; however, due to some recent health issues, she is no longer able to sign forms. What can I do in this situation?
Answer: FSA does have policy when persons become incapacitated, incompetent, are called for active military duty, etc. Contact your local FSA office with the specifics of your situation and what documentation will be needed for the review and acceptance of non-FSA-211 documents.