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.
CARLSBAD, N.M. » Just after the local water board announced this month that its farmers would get only one-tenth of their normal water allotment this year, Ronnie Walterscheid, 53, stood up and called on his elected representatives to declare a water war on their upstream neighbors.
“It’s always been about us giving up,” Walterscheid said, to nods. “I say we push back hard right now.”
The drought-fueled anger of southeastern New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers is boiling, and there is nowhere near enough water in the desiccated Pecos River to cool it down. Roswell, about 75 miles to the north, has somewhat more water available and so is the focus of intense resentment here. Walterscheid and others believe that Roswell’s artesian wells reduce Carlsbad’s surface water.
For decades, the regional status quo meant the northerners pumped groundwater and the southerners piped surface water. Now, amid the worst drought on record, some in Carlsbad say they must upend the status quo to survive. They want to make what is known as a priority call on the Pecos River.
A priority call, an exceedingly rare maneuver, is the nuclear option in the world of water. Such a call would try to force the state to return to what had been the basic principle of water distribution in the West: The lands whose owners were the first users of the water — in most cases farmland — get first call on it in times of scarcity. Big industries can be losers; small farmers winners.
The threat of such a move reflects the political impact of the droughts that are becoming the new normal in the West.
“A call on the river is a call for a shakeout,” explained Daniel McCool, a University of Utah political scientist and author of “River Republic: The Fall and Rise of America’s Rivers.”
“It’s not going to be farmers versus environmentalists or liberals versus conservatives,” he said. “It’s going to be the people who have water versus the people who don’t.” And, he said, the have-nots will outnumber the haves.
Dudley Jones, the manager for the Carlsbad Irrigation District, said that water law and allocation practice have long diverged. “We have it in the state constitution: First in time, first in right. But that’s not how it’s practiced.” In New Mexico’s political pecking order, his alfalfa farmers, despite senior priority rights dating back 100 years, have little clout. The state water authorities, he said, “are not going to cut out the city.”
“They’re not going to cut out the dairy industry,” he added. “They’re not going to cut off the oil and gas industry, because that’s economic development. So we’re left with a dilemma — the New Mexico water dilemma.”
A priority call, said McCool, “will glaringly demonstrate how unfair, how anachronistic the whole water law edifice is.”
He added, “The all-or-nothing dynamic of prior appropriation instantly sets up conflict. I get all of mine and you get nothing.”
A federal judge sentenced two Hawaii hunters to community service today after an investigation into the interisland smuggling of axis deer by helicopter.
Neither man was charged with the smuggling itself, but prosecutors said their actions introduced axis deer to the Big Island for the first time and harmed the environment as a result.
Daniel Rocha of Mountain View on the Big Island was sentenced to 100 hours of community service for having sheep in his possession without a permit. U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Richard Puglisi also ordered Rocha to pay a $1,000 fine.
Puglisi ordered Jeffrey Grundhauser to perform 100 hours of community service for taking an unlicensed hunter to shoot game animals on his ranch in upcountry Maui. Grundhauser must also pay a $15,000 fine and will be on probation for one year.
The deer were introduced to the Big Island as part of a trade in December 2009.
Rocha provided Grundhauser’s hunting ranch with about a dozen mouflon sheep that he raised at his small farm in Mountain View. In exchange, Grundhauser gave Rocha four axis deer from Maui that Rocha released on a private ranch on the Big Island.
Before the problem gets any worse on Maui, Mayor Alan Arakawa should appoint a blue-ribbon axis deer panel to come up with a comprehensive plan on how the county can deal with the alarming increase of deer on Maui and the significant damage that is being done to our forests, farm vegetables, ecosystem and other vegetative life on the island.
The panel should include farmers, ranchers, hunters, environmentalists, government representatives and others who have been negatively impacted by these four-legged foreign invaders.
Because the problem is so widespread and a workable solution very difficult to achieve, the mayor is in the best position to bring together the necessary experienced people to come up with ideas on how we can deal with this growing menace.
Jimmy Gomes, operations manager at Ulupalakua Ranch, describes the problem (The Maui News, May 27) by stating that he’s seen a thousand at a time and has had to wait several minutes for a herd of deer to pass before he can ride through them on horseback. Gomes went on to say that gun club members and ranch employees have killed more than 1,000 deer on the ranch this year, but it hasn’t made a dent in their numbers.
Mr. Mayor, the county needs to take action now before it is too late.
William T. Kinaka
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.
Downpours have ended drought conditions on Oahu and Kauai, but the suffering continues for farmers and ranchers on other islands
Oahu and Kauai are no longer officially in drought conditions after last month’s heavy rain, the National Weather Service said.
But farmers and ranchers are still suffering, especially those on Maui, Molokai and the Big Island, where some ranchers are reportedly still hauling water to support their livestock.
National Weather Service hydrologist Kevin Kodama said “conditions on the leeward side of the Big Island, which is a dry area normally, improved slightly.”
However, last month’s rainfall “was not enough since it occurred over a short period of time,” too short to eliminate the drought conditions there.
The report issued by the Weather Service is just one of several steps that must be met before the emergency drought declaration issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is lifted. The emergency declaration, which made farmers and ranchers eligible for emergency loans and other payments, was issued for the Big Island in 2006, Maui and Molokai in 2007 and Kauai and Oahu last January.
“It’s good news,” said Diane Ley, state executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.
However, it will be several years before the state’s pasture lands recover from the past four years of drought conditions.
Many Hawaii farmers and ranchers say the cost of complying with proposed safety rules regulating dams and reservoirs will be more than they can afford and that they’ll be turning to the state Legislature for financial aid.
“We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Alan Gottlieb, a past president of the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council.
The proposed administrative rules were approved by the state land board Monday and forwarded to Gov. Linda Lingle. The governor’s approval is required before they take effect.
The rules would regulate 138 reservoirs in Hawaii that have the capacity to hold 5 million gallons or more.
State officials said the increases in fees would pay for costs of enforcing the new safety rules.
Critics say that besides the high cost, the regulations would discourage the operation of existing reservoirs, many of which operate on narrow profit margins.
One of the largest regulated reservoirs is at the city’s Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe.
The reservoir, built as a flood-control project, usually stores 84.7 million gallons but has a capacity of 1.4 billion gallons, according to the state.
Farmers and ranchers say that while they support safety regulations in light of the 2006 Koloko Reservoir dam break on Kauai that killed seven people, the proposed rules place an unreasonable burden on businesses.
LIHU‘E — A couple years ago an idea entered the mind of Jerry Nakasone, hanai son of Juliet and Harold Aiu, to hold a jackpot roping event dedicated to Harold Aiu, a member of the Hawai‘i Cowboy Hall of Fame and a Living Treasure as honored by the Kaua‘i Museum.
The event was planned for the summer of this year, around the time of Harold Aiu’s 80th birthday.
After Harold Aiu died earlier this year of cancer, Nakasone decided to go ahead with the event, at CJM Country Stables in Po‘ipu, in cooperation with Jimmy Miranda, CJM owner.
Over 100 cowboys and cowgirls came from near and far to compete in the two-day event, with each night ending with a feast and paniolo entertainment.
Every child, grandchild and great-grandchild of the Aius attended, some coming from as far away as Boston.
Harold “Papa” Aiu was watching over the belt-buckle and check presentations to the winners, from a poster atop one of his favorite horses.
Not only did Aiu actively rope on Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i for decades, he also traveled to the Mainland, as far as Oklahoma City, to compete in the U.S. team roping championships, oftentimes with partner Lelan Nishek of Kaua‘i Nursery & Landscaping.
Aiu would return with trophy saddles, belt buckles, blankets, bridles and other prizes in addition to cash winnings, family members said.
Since the demise of pineapple and sugarcane, the seed industry has helped diversify Hawaii’s economy and kept important ag lands in agricultural production by investing millions of dollars into failing infrastructure such as roads, buildings and irrigation.
Not only does this ensure that those farmlands remain productive for future generations, but the investment has saved small farmers and the state from having to pay for those improvements.
While we applaud the Sierra Club for turning its attention to food security (Name in the News, Star-Advertiser, Oct. 22), the comment by Robert Harris that farmers are having difficulty finding land to farm “because it’s all being used for seed corn” is a gross misstatement.
The agricultural biotech industry, which includes seed corn research companies, operates on only 5 percent of the available prime agricultural lands in the state. Of those acres, approximately 8,000 are actively used for crop production, which conserves water and results in a smaller environmental footprint.
Recognizing the difficulty of farmers to secure land, many seed companies now collaborate with farmers to put new and displaced farmers back on agricultural land at affordable prices. Farmers large and small are growing a variety of crops side by side, and many now even supplement their income by growing seed crops. In addition, seed companies lease land to cattle ranchers, who are another important part of Hawaii’s food security picture.