What's Up at the USDA Office?

Upcoming Deadlines/Dates
Feb 4: Organic and Transition Education Certification Program (FY20, FY21)
Feb. 18: Dairy Margin Coverage Program
Feb. 25: Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program
Mar. 15: ARCPLC Program Deadline

Conservation Reserve Contractors
With just over 17,000 acres in CRP throughout Allamakee County, contract holders are constantly looking for folks who can help complete establishment or maintenance activities.  If you are someone who can help with these services (seeding, mowing, spraying, burning, pruning, etc.) please contact our office so we can get you added to our contractors list.

USDA Opens 2022 Signup for Dairy Margin Coverage, Expands Program for Supplemental Production
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened signup for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program and expanded the program to allow dairy producers to better protect their operations by enrolling supplemental production. This signup period – which runs from Dec. 13, 2021 to Feb. 18, 2022 – enables producers to get coverage through this important safety-net program for another year as well as get additional assistance through the new Supplemental DMC.

Supplemental DMC will provide $580 million to better help small- and mid-sized dairy operations that have increased production over the years but were not able to enroll the additional production. Now, they will be able to retroactively receive payments for that supplemental production. Additionally, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) updated how feed costs are calculated, which will make the program more reflective of actual dairy producer expenses.

Eligible dairy operations with less than 5 million pounds of established production history may enroll supplemental pounds based upon a formula using 2019 actual milk marketings, which will result in additional payments. Producers will be required to provide FSA with their 2019 Milk Marketing Statement.

Supplemental DMC coverage is applicable to calendar years 2021, 2022 and 2023. Participating dairy operations with supplemental production may receive retroactive supplemental payments for 2021 in addition to payments based on their established production history.

Supplemental DMC will require a revision to a producer’s 2021 DMC contract and must occur before enrollment in DMC for the 2022 program year. Producers will be able to revise 2021 DMC contracts and then apply for 2022 DMC by contacting their local USDA Service Center.

After making any revisions to 2021 DMC contracts for Supplemental DMC, producers can sign up for 2022 coverage. DMC provides eligible dairy producers with risk management coverage that pays producers when the difference between the price of milk and the cost of feed falls below a certain level. So far in 2021, DMC payments have triggered for January through October for more than $1.0 billion.

For DMC enrollment, producers must certify with FSA that the operation is commercially marketing milk, sign all required forms and pay the $100 administrative fee. The fee is waived for farmers who are considered limited resource, beginning, socially disadvantaged, or a military veteran. To determine the appropriate level of DMC coverage for a specific dairy operation, producers can use the online dairy decision tool.

USDA is also changing the DMC feed cost formula to better reflect the actual cost dairy farmers pay for high-quality alfalfa hay.  FSA will calculate payments using 100% premium alfalfa hay rather than 50%.  The amended feed cost formula will make DMC payments more reflective of actual dairy producer expenses.  

Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program
Are you a producer or handler of agricultural commodities that are certified organic? Or, are you transitioning your operation to certified organic? You may be eligible for financial assistance to cover expenses paid during the 2020, 2021, and 2022 fiscal years through USDA’s Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP). This new program is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, certified organic and transitional operations faced loss of markets, increased costs, labor shortages, and expenses related to obtaining or renewing their organic certification. Transitional operations also faced the financial challenge of implementing practices required to obtain organic certification without the premium prices associated with certified organic commodities.

OTECP provides up to $20 million to reimburse agricultural producers and handlers who are certified organic and crop and livestock producers who are transitioning to organic for eligible expenses incurred during fiscal years 2020, 2021, and/or 2022. The date ranges for these time periods are:
• Fiscal Year 2020: October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020
• Fiscal Year 2021: October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021
• Fiscal Year 2022: October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022

Certification costs for crops, livestock, wild crops, handling, and state fees are eligible for up to 25% reimbursement (not to exceed $250).  These payments consider any prior payments received under the Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (OCCSP).

If you are a producer transitioning to organic, up to 75% (not to exceed $750) of your eligible expenses can be reimbursed.  These can include fees for pre-certification inspection, soil testing through USDA NOP, registration fees for educational events, and the development of organic system plans.

You must be a certified operation or a crop or livestock transitional operation at the time of application. Operations with suspended, revoked, denied, or withdrawn USDA organic certifications at the time of application are ineligible for OTECP.

The OTECP application period for program years 2020 and 2021 is November 8, 2021, through February 4, 2022. The application period for program year 2022 will be announced at a later date.

Enrollment Begins for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs for 2022
Agricultural producers can now make elections and enroll in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2022 crop year. The signup period opened Monday, Oct. 18.  These key U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) safety-net programs help producers weather fluctuations in either revenue or price for certain crops.

Enrollment for the 2022 crop year closes March 15, 2022.

2022 Elections and Enrollment
Producers can elect coverage and enroll in crop-by-crop ARC-County or PLC, or ARC-Individual for the entire farm, for the 2022 crop year. Although election changes for 2022 are optional, enrollment (signed contract) is required for each year of the program. If a producer has a multi-year contract on the farm and makes an election change for 2022, it will be necessary to sign a new contract.

If an election is not submitted by the deadline of March 15, 2022, the election defaults to the current election for crops on the farm from the prior crop year.