FAQ: Is this the last year of the 2008 Farm Bill? When does DCP and the ACRE sign up begin for the 2012 crop year?
Answer: Provided by Beth Grabau, public information and outreach specialist for USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Iowa. She is located at the FSA state office in Des Moines.
The current DCP and ACRE programs expire with the 2008 Farm Bill, which ends in 2012. As required, there are no 2012 advance direct payments for DCP or ACRE. Since there are no payments to be issued, there is not an advantage to receive benefits in one calendar year versus another. Therefore, sign up will not begin until January 23, 2012 and it runs through June 1, 2012. Producers who are interested in electing to enroll into the ACRE program for the first time, can do so during that same time period.
Question: I’m renting an additional 160 acres in 2012. I think that tract has had at least 6 different operators since conservation compliance began in 1985. Since this is a new farm for me, what do I need to do to be in compliance? How do I find out about the soil conservation compliance requirements for the farm?
When changes that result in new producers on a farm are reported to FSA county offices, the new producers involved shall be advised of Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) requirements. Local county FSA offices will also inform new producers of NRCS HEL and wetland determinations by providing a photocopy showing the HEL and wetland determinations for the farm.
New producers on a farm are encouraged to contact NRCS for development or revision of a conservation plan or system.
The purpose of the FSA notification to new owners and operators is to provide an added reminder to potential program participants of their conservation compliance responsibilities. It remains the responsibility of the producer to ensure compliance with the HELC and WC
provisions on all newly acquired land. The county FSA office is not required to become aware of all land transfers (sales or rentals) by every producer. Failure to notify producers will not eliminate any loss of program benefits if producers are found out of compliance.
Question: The owners of a farm I am renting for the first time in 2012, just inherited the farm and all live out-of-state. None are very knowledgeable on FSA requirements and I’m unsure if there is a problem. How does FSA determine who is ineligible for payment? What happens if the previous operator has failed to comply leaving me in limbo?
When a HELC or a WC violation is discovered, FSA determines the extent of the ineligibility based on the person’s status on the farm and whether or not they share in the crop which was planted on the land with the violation. The producer’s status can be that of operator, landowner, owner/operator, tenant or sharecropper.
The extent of ineligibility for the producer who violated shall be the same for the affiliated persons. Contact the county FSA office for more information on the definition of an affiliated person.
FSA will also determine the year in which benefits are to be denied. A new operator on a non-compliant farm should contact NRCS immediately to discuss options to correct a compliance problem and do it within the specified time period.
Question: Does anyone ever check to see if conservation compliance provisions are being followed on a farm?
Annually, NRCS makes visits to farms to verify that land is being farmed according to an acceptable conservation plan/system or that no wetland conversion was made without prior approval. These visits can result from a random selection, through a whistleblower, or perhaps an area was found through another review or from aerial photography.
When a violation is found, the producers involved are given an opportunity to review the preliminary NRCS determination with NRCS staff.
If you have specific questions or need details on USDA farm programs, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency or other appropriate USDA agency office. And be sure to read the regular column of “Frequently Asked Questions about the Farm Program” appearing in each issue of Wallaces Farmer magazine and at www.WallacesFarmer.com.