USDA Encourages Early Registration for FSA Programs
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2014 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia today recommended that farmers and ranchers who plan to participate in FSA programs register in advance. Producers are encouraged to report farm records and business structure changes to a local FSA Service Center before April 15, 2014.
Enrollment for the disaster programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, including the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) will begin by April 15, 2014.
“We expect significant interest in these programs,” said Garcia. “Early registration should help improve the sign-up process and allow us to expedite implementation of the programs. I strongly encourage producers to complete their paperwork ahead of time.”
Examples of updates or changes to report include:
- New producers or producers who have not reported farm records to FSA.
- Producers who have recently bought, sold or rented land. Those producers need to ensure that changes have been reported and properly recorded by local FSA county office personnel. Reports of purchased or sold property should include a copy of the land deed, and if land has been leased, then documentation should be provided that indicates the producer had/has control of the acreage.
- Producers that have changed business structures (e.g. formed a partnership or LLC) need to ensure that these relationships and shares are properly recorded with FSA. Even family farms that have records on file may want to ensure that this is recorded accurately as it may impact payment limits.
Farm records can be updated during business hours at FSA Service Centers that administer the county where the farm or ranch is located. Producers can contact their local FSA Service Center in advance to find out what paperwork they may need. In addition, bank account information should be supplied or updated if necessary to ensure that producers receive payments as quickly as possible through direct deposit.
While any producer may report farm records and business structure changes, it is especially important for producers who suffered livestock, livestock grazing, honeybee, farm-raised fish, or tree/vine losses for 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014, and may be eligible for assistance through one of the four disaster programs.
A program that puts billions of dollars in the pockets of farmers whether or not they plant a crop may disappear with hardly a protest from farm groups and the politicians who look out for their interests.
The Senate is expected to begin debate this week on a five-year farm and food aid bill that would save $9.3 billion by ending direct payments to farmers and replacing them with subsidized insurance programs for when the weather turns bad or prices go south.
The details have yet to be worked out. But there’s rare agreement that fixed annual subsidies of $5 billion a year for farmers are no longer feasible when budgets are tight and farmers in general are enjoying record prosperity.
About 80 percent of the bill’s half-trillion-dollar cost over the next five years represents nutrition programs, primarily food stamps that go to some 46 million people. About $100 billion would be devoted to crop subsidies and other farm programs.
The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee last month approved a bill that would save $23 billion over the next decade by ending direct payments and consolidating other programs. The bill would strengthen the subsidized crop insurance program and create a program to compensate farmers for smaller, or “shallow,” revenue losses, based on a five-year average, for acres actually planted.
Getting a bill to the president’s desk will be a challenge. Most of the bill’s spending is on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, at an annual cost now of about $75 billion. The Republican-led House is looking for greater cuts to this program than the Democratic Senate will accept.
The House also is more sympathetic to Southern rice and peanut farmers who say that the shallow-loss program would hurt them.
You might have missed this while you were busy taking the kids to school and preparing for the holidays, but last fall, two U.S. food labeling programs suffered serious legal setbacks that threaten to confuse consumers and thwart the intentions of the “dolphin-safe” tuna and “country-of-origin” labels.
The details are complicated, but in September and November, two dispute panels for the World Trade Organization in Switzerland sided in part with Mexico and Canada on complaints against the voluntary dolphin-safe label and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL). Mexico argued that U.S. dolphin-safe standards are misleading and discriminate against the controversial fishing techniques that Mexico employs to catch tuna. Canada argued that the COOL program discriminates against imported cattle and hogs.
Reactions to the WTO rulings have ranged from tranquil to concerned to downright outraged. Major U.S. tuna producers say they won’t change their dolphin-safe sourcing standards even if they have to change their labels. Pork and beef producers worry that Mexico and Canada might apply tariffs to U.S. meat imports if the U.S. government doesn’t comply with the WTO rulings on COOL, a regulation the meat industry has had mixed feelings about since its implementation in early 2009.
And some nonprofit groups are frustrated that the United States finds itself in this position at all. They’ve long predicted that America’s binding membership in the WTO could lead to this: sacrificing important U.S. environmental and public-safety laws in the name of free international trade.
“There has been widespread concern,” wrote the nonpartisan advocacy group Public Citizen after the dolphin-safe ruling in September, that the WTO could “second guess the U.S. Congress, courts or public by elevating the goal of maximizing trade flows over consumer and environmental protection.”
USDA Farm Service Agency News Release
The Natural Resources Conservation Service, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture, is offering technical and financial assistance to farmers and ranchers to develop, install and implement authorized conservation practices. To receive assistance, the farmer or rancher must be in control of the land where practices will be applied, have an agricultural income of at least $1,000 per year and be willing to implement conservation practices of the duration of the contract and maintain such practices.
The following programs assist operators in implementing conservation practices:
• EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program)
• WHIP (Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program)
• AMA (Agricultural Management Assistance)
• WRP (Wetlands Reserve Program)
• GRP (Grassland Reserve Program)
• CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program)
For a full description of program eligibility, visit pia.nrcs.usda.gov/programs, or contact the Ho`olehua Field Office at 4101 Maunaloa Hwy or 567-6868 ext. 105.
CORVALLIS, Ore. — For years, Tyler Jones, a livestock farmer here, avoided telling his grandfather how disillusioned he had become with industrial farming.
After all, his grandfather had worked closely with Earl L. Butz, the former federal secretary of agriculture who was known for saying, “Get big or get out.”
But several weeks before his grandfather died, Mr. Jones broached the subject. His grandfather surprised him. “You have to fix what Earl and I messed up,” Mr. Jones said his grandfather told him.
Now, Mr. Jones, 30, and his wife, Alicia, 27, are among an emerging group of people in their 20s and 30s who have chosen farming as a career. Many shun industrial, mechanized farming and list punk rock, Karl Marx and the food journalist Michael Pollan as their influences. The Joneses say they and their peers are succeeding because of Oregon’s farmer-foodie culture, which demands grass-fed and pasture-raised meats.
“People want to connect more than they can at their grocery store,” Ms. Jones said. “We had a couple who came down from Portland and asked if they could collect their own eggs. We said, ‘O.K., sure.’ They want to trust their producer, because there’s so little trust in food these days.”
Garry Stephenson, coordinator of the Small Farms Program at Oregon State University, said he had not seen so much interest among young people in decades. “It’s kind of exciting,”