The Record’s Ag Report
With the extension of the 2008 Farm Bill, USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Executive Director Dan Weber said producers can sign up for the Direct and Counter-Cyclical (DCP) Program and the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program for their 2013 crop year.
“The DCP and ACRE are programs that have been funded,” Weber said. “The crop disaster program and the livestock indemnity program, however, have not been funded.”
Congress would have to appropriate funds to make those programs available for the 2013 crop year.
The livestock indemnity program reimbursed producers for livestock lost due to adverse weather conditions. The program ended in September of 2012. No funds were distributed in 2012 in Emmons County as there were no losses reported due to adverse weather.
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) was also included and funded as part of the extension; however, FSA offices have not been provided with the software nor the procedures to approve any sign-ups.
Currently, the Emmons County FSA Office has 313 contracts consisting of nearly 15,000 acres signed up in CRP. That compares with approximately 43,000 acres in 2012 and nearly 53,000 acres in 2011. In 2007, Emmons County had 76,000 acres enrolled in CRP, and those contracts have started to expire.
“CRP is a popular program inside and outside of agriculture,” Weber said. “CRP is used for protecting wetlands, planting shelterbelts, providing wildlife habitat and it provides participants with rental payments and costshare assistance.”
Weber said currently the trend is that as CRP contracts expire, the acreage is returned to crop production rather than offering the acreage for CRP enrollment.At this time, USDA has not announced a sign up for the CRP in 2013.
Strong grain prices have driven the fact that producers are wanting to bring their land out of CRP.
“However, to place good conservation practices on the land, CRPis a great program,” Weber said.
On the DCP, the sign-up period to enroll began Feb. 19, 2013, and will end Aug. 2, 2013. All producers may choose to enroll in either DCP or ACRE for the 2013 crop year. This means that producers who enrolled in ACRE in 2012 may elect to enroll in DCP in 2013, or vice versa.
There are two types of DCP payments: direct (guaranteed) payments and countercyclical (non-guaranteed) payments. Both are calculated using the base acres and payment yields established on the farm. Direct payments are limited to $40,000 per person or entity, and counter-cyclical payments are limited to $65,000 per person or entity. For 2013, no advance direct or partial counter-cyclical payments are authorized.
“Producers will receive their entire 2013 direct payment in October of 2013,” Weber said.
The Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) Program was also extended and funded in this year’s Farm Bill extension.
The MILC Program compensates dairy producers when domestic milk prices fall below a specified level. FSA makes MILC payments on a monthly basis when the Boston Class I milk price falls below $16.94 per hundredweight (cwt) as adjusted by the dairy feed ration adjustment.
Sign-up for the program extends through the conclusion of the program on Sept. 30, 2013.
“The MILC Program was part of the 2008 Farm Bill, so dairy producers who are currently enrolled in MILC do not need to re-apply,” Weber said.
In Emmons County, payments through the MILC Program were made in the months of February through October of 2012. Currently, the Emmons County FSA office has 13 contracts enrolled in the MILC Program.
“I can remember back in the mid-1980s, when Emmons County had 85 dairy farmers in the MILC Program,” Weber said.
The FSA has also developed the Microloan (ML) program which was designed to better serve the unique financial operating needs of beginning, niche and the smallest of family farm operations by modifying its current Operating Loan (OL) application, eligibility and security requirements. The application process for microloans will be simpler, requiring less paperwork to fill out.
“We went from 27 pages of paperwork to seven pages,” said FSAProgram Technician Holly Will.
Requirements for managerial experience and loan security have been modified to accommodate smaller farm operations, beginning farmers and those with no farm management experience.
Eligible applicants may obtain a microloan for up to $35,000. The repayment term may vary and will not exceed seven years. Annual operating loans are repaid within 12 months or when the agricultural commodities produced are sold. The interest rate is based on the regular OL rate, which in Feb. of 2013, is 1.125 percent.
“This is an ideal program for beginning farmers, small farming operations or niche operations,” Will said.
Will said that to qualify for the microloans under the family farm requirements, a producer must have more than $1,000 in agriculture production, orienting from food or fiber. Will also said a good credit history is important.
For more information on program and eligibility requirements, producers can visit their local FSA office or the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov.