FAQ: USDA has recently taken additional steps to better assist farmers adversely impacted by this year's exceptionally hot, dry weather. In southeast Iowa, our area has been hit hard by drought in 2012. Please review these latest USDA announcements, so I can try to figure out which program changes apply to me.
Answer: On September 6 John Whitaker, state executive director for USDA's Farm Service Agency in Iowa, explained the actions recently taken by USDA to continue to assist farmers who've been hurt by drought. These changes include extending the emergency grazing of Conservation Reserve Program acreage deadline to November 30. Also, more counties have been approved to start an Emergency Conservation Program sign up. And USDA recently made a change to allow haying and grazing of cover crops. There have been several other changes, too.
The extension of the emergency grazing deadline for CRP acreage will be allowed on limited practices. The new deadline is November 30, 2012. Thus, farmers participating in USDA's emergency grazing program must remove livestock from the CRP land no later than November 30. Please take note: Emergency haying on CRP acres was NOT extended past August 31, 2012.
"Tama and Monroe counties have been added to the five counties that have been approved in Iowa to hold a sign-up under the Emergency Conservation Program," says Whitaker. "Counties that have previously been approved to hold a sign-up are Audubon, Carroll, Crawford, Davis and Wapello."
What are rules for sign-up for Emergency Conservation Program
Under ECP, farmers who are experiencing severe drought conditions may be eligible for cost-share assistance, if the damage is so severe that water available for livestock, orchards and vineyards has been reduced below normal to the extent that they cannot survive without additional water.
The severity and ongoing drought conditions, has created the need for changes to Risk Management Agency provisions. RMA will allow producers to hay or graze cover crops without forfeiting crop insurance eligibility on planted 2013 spring crops. "This change is beneficial to livestock producers, as it makes forage and feed available this fall and winter. Producers should contact their crop insurance agent for more information," says Whitaker.
Low-interest emergency loans available to farmers who qualify
Due to natural disasters throughout Iowa, producers who have suffered major production and/or physical losses may be eligible for low interest emergency loans. Modifications will be made to the emergency loan program allowing loans for losses to feed and pasture to be made earlier in the season.
"Producers will no longer have to wait until the end of the production cycle to obtain a loan," says Whitaker. "This change will support producers who currently need assistance to help offset high production costs. In addition to Emergency Loans, FSA has a variety of other loan programs available to assist producers in returning to normal in their farming operations."
Contact your crop insurance agent for help regarding RMA provisions
Whitaker also notes that, "Adding more flexibility to current USDA farm program requirements will make much needed assistance more readily available to producers who have been affected by the 2012 drought disaster," notes Whitaker. "Many of these changes will benefit livestock producers who are facing higher feed costs or are at risk of liquidating their herd due to the drought."
Contact your crop insurance agent for more information regarding special provisions to RMA insurance provisions. For more information on CRP, ECP or the USDA Emergency Loan Program, contact your county FSA office or go on-line to www.fsa.usda.gov.