The winter months can be a time for farmers and ranchers to get caught up on unfinished fall projects as well as to plan and prepare for this year’s spring plowing and planting.
Part of the planning and preparing comes in attending meetings and workshops to learn about new products as well as agricultural programs that have been made available to the agriculture community.
The USDA Farm Service Agency reminds producers that the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended the authorization of the Farm Bill Act of 2008.
The extended programs include, among others, the Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment Program (DCP), the Average Crop Revenue Election Program (ACRE) and the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC).
All dairy producers’ MILC contracts are automatically (no need to re-enroll) extended through Sept. 30. MILC operations with approved contracts will continue to receive monthly payments, if available, provided 2013 producer eligibility documents have been completed.
DCP and ACRE sign-up for 2013 crops began on Feb. 19. The 2013 DCP and ACRE program provisions are unchanged from 2012, except that all eligible participants in 2013 may choose to enroll in either DCP or ACRE for the 2013 crop year.
This means that eligible producers who were enrolled in ACRE in 2012 may elect to enroll in DCP in 2013 or may re-enroll in ACRE in 2013 (and vice versa).
DCP sign-up ends Aug. 2, while ACRE sign-up ends June 3.
FSA has developed a new and innovative loan program, which is referred to as the Microloan (ML) program. The program is intended to better serve the unique financial operating needs of beginning, niche and the smallest of family farm operations.
The “micro” in Microloan allows for reduced requirements for managerial experience and loan security, reduced financial documentation, offsetting a reduction to the maximum funding available of $35,000.
The Microloan program can be used for expenses such as annual crop inputs, marketing and distribution, purchase of livestock and equipment, and minor farm improvements like wells and coolers.
The remaining features of the Microloan program, such as repayment terms and interest rates, are similar to the Operating Loan program.
USDA continues to reach out to potential Hispanic and female farmers and ranchers around the country to get the word out to individuals who may be eligible for filing a claim if they believe they have faced discriminatory practices in the past from the USDA.
The filing period closes and claims must be postmarked no later than March 25.
Communicating USDA program information and services is a high priority within the Farm Service Agency.
USDA’s GOV Delivery is an innovative form of communicating mission-critical information which has been introduced by FSA.
GOV Delivery is an electronic format in which farmers, ranchers, producers, landowners and other interested individuals may subscribe to receive electronic newsletters, bulletins and program updates at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/subscribe.
To learn more about these and other FSA programs, visit your local FSA county office or our website at www.fsa.usda.gov/pa. Additionally, Farm Bill extension information is available at www.fsa.usda.gov/ATRA.
Bill Wehry is executive director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Pennsylvania.