What's up at the FSA Office?

by Joyce Davidshofer, Allamakee County Executive Director

Save Time – Make an Appointment With FSA
As we roll out the Farm Bill programs administered by FSA, there will be related sign-ups and in some cases multiple management decisions that need to be made by you, the producer, in consult with FSA staff. To insure maximum use of your time and to insure that you are afforded our full attention to your important business needs, please call our office ahead of your visit to set an appointment and to discuss any records or documentation that you may need to have with you when you arrive for your appointment. The Allamakee County FSA Office will still service the producers who walk in. With all of the new programs and the new regulations appointments would be appreciated so office staff can gather all folders and forms to be ready to service you, the producer, in a timely manner. Thank you in advance on the appointment system.
The following programs will be on an appointment system:
Continuous CRP program - last day is September 30, 2014 with all paperwork completed and approved.
ARC/PLC program - 2014/2015 signup coming in the future.
LFP – Livestock Forge Program- deadline January 30, 2015
LIP – Livestock Indemnity  Program - deadline January 30, 2015.
MPP – Margin Protection Program for Dairy producers- Deadline November 28.

Margin Protection Program for Dairy Producers
The sign-up period for the new Margin Protection Program (MPP), which replaces the MILC program, started September 2, 2014 and ends November 28, 2014.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will be conducting several meetings in the surrounding counties. This is a 90-minute meeting with no fee required; registration is encouraged for handouts and location preparation.
The locations and times are as follows:
Manchester – Wednesday, September 17, 1-2:30 p.m. Delaware County Extension Office. 563-927-4201.
Waukon – Thursday, September 18, 10-11:30 a.m.       Farmers & Merchant Savings Bank. Allamakee County Extension Office, 563-568-6345.
Cresco – Thursday, September 18 1-2:30 p.m.     Cresco Bank & Trust. Howard County Extension Office, 563-547-3001.
Fayette – Monday, September 22, 10-11:30 a.m. Fayette County Extension office, 563-425-3331.
Elkader – Friday, September 26, 10-11:30 a.m. Clayton County Extension Office, 563-245-1451.

USDA Announces New Support for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
USDA has announced the implementation of new Farm Bill measures and other policy changes to improve the financial security of new and beginning farmers and ranchers. USDA also unveiled www.USDA.gov/newfarmers, a new website that will provide a centralized, one-stop resource where beginning farmers and ranchers can explore the variety of USDA initiatives designed to help them succeed.
USDA’s www.usda.gov/newfarmers has in depth information for new farmers and ranchers, including: how to increase access to land and capital; build new market opportunities; participate in conservation opportunities; select and use the right risk management tools; and access USDA education, and technical support programs. These issues have been identified as top priorities by new farmers. The website will also feature instructive case studies about beginning farmers who have successfully utilized USDA resources to start or expand their business operations.
These policy announcements in support of beginning farmers and ranchers include:
• Waiving service fees for new and beginning farmers or ranchers to enroll in the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) for the 2014 crop year. NAP provides risk management tools to farmers who grow crops for which there is no crop insurance product. Under this waiver, announced via an official notice to Farm Service Agency offices, farmers and ranchers whom already enrolled in NAP for the 2014 crop year and certified to being a beginning farmer or social disadvantaged farmer are eligible for a service fee refund.
 • Eliminating payment reductions under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for new and beginning farmers which will allow routine, prescribed, and emergency grazing outside the primary nesting season on enrolled land consistent with approved conservation plans. Previously, farmers and ranchers grazing on CRP land were subject to a reduction in CRP payments of up to 25 percent.  Waiving these reductions for new and beginning farmers will provide extra financial support during times of emergency like drought and other natural disasters.  
• Increasing payment rates to beginning farmers and ranchers under Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). Under this provision, beginning farmers can claim up 90 percent of losses for lost livestock, such as bees, under ELAP. This is a fifty percent increase over previously available payment amounts to new and beginning farmers.
In the near future, USDA will also announce additional crop insurance program changes for beginning farmers and ranchers – including discounted premiums, waiver of administrative fees, and other benefits.

Compliance Spot Checks
Compliance spot checks will be conducted on 2014 crops. Instead of locally selecting farms, contracts, deficiency loans, etc. for review, a nationwide selection of producers is employed.  Spot check selections are to be conducted based on a producer’s participation in FSA programs.
For more information about the spot check selection procedure, feel free to contact your local Farm Service Agency office for additional clarification.

Unauthorized Disposition of Grain
If loan grain has been disposed of through feeding, selling or any other form of disposal without prior written authorization from the county office staff, it is considered unauthorized disposition. The financial penalties for unauthorized dispositions are severe and a producer’s name will be placed on a loan violation list for a two-year period.  Always call before you haul any grain under loan.

Foreign Buyers Notification
The Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA) requires all foreign owners of U.S. agricultural land to report their holdings to the Secretary of Agriculture. The Farm Service Agency administers this program for USDA.
All individuals who are not U.S. citizens, and have purchased or sold agricultural land in the county are required to report the transaction to FSA with 90 days of the closing. Failure to submit the AFIDA form (FSA-153) could result in civil penalties of up to 25 percent of the fair market value of the property. County government offices, Realtors, attorneys and others involved in real estate transactions are reminded to notify foreign investors of these reporting requirements.
Preventing Fraud
The Farm Service Agency supports the Risk Management Agency in the prevention of fraud, waste and abuse of the Federal Crop Insurance Program. FSA has been, and will continue to, assist RMA and insurance providers by monitoring crop conditions throughout the growing season. FSA will continue to refer all suspected cases of fraud, waste and abuse directly to RMA.
Producers can report suspected cases to the FSA office, RMA, or the Office of the Inspector General.