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Expect changes when interacting with local FSA offices

By Staff | May 7, 2020

Once producers have completed planting their spring crops, they report these planted acres to their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. Filing an accurate and timely report for all crops and land uses, including prevented plantings and failed acreage, is an essential part of determining your eligibility for critical programs, including crop insurance, price support, disaster relief, and conservation programs.

The deadline is July 15 for filing acreage Certification Form 578. However, this spring and summer months, the typical face-to-face interaction with FSA will not be the same due to social distancing.

While FSA has not announced official procedures, producers should keep good records at planting. In your records, include the date, the specific crop, and the number of acres planted and reference the farm name or number.

Remember, both the FSA office and your crop insurance agent will need accurate data when you complete the acreage certification FSA Form 578. The planted acres on this form are verification for your crop insurance agent in determining your 2020 crop insurance coverage, and, thus, your final premium to be paid.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Expect another need to interact with your local FSA office, as the USDA recently announced a $19 billion relief package to assist farmers and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. The program provides $16 billion in direct support based on actual losses for farmers from prices and market supply chains being disrupted. USDA will also purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat for distribution to food banks and other groups helping families in need.

The $19 billion USDA program, known as the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will use money allocated by Congress through the CARES Act and from other sources to maintain the integrity of the food supply system. The $16 billion in direct payments for farmers will include $9.6 billion for the livestock industry ($5.1 billion for cattle, $2.9 billion for dairy and $1.6 billion for hogs). It has $3.9 billion for row crop producers, $2.1 billion for specialty crop producers and $500 million for other crops.

USDA said farmers will receive a single payment, which will be determined using two calculations:

– Jan. 1 to April 15. For price losses that occurred from Jan. 1 to April 15, producers will be compensated for 85% of losses.

– April 15 to the end of the third quarter. The second payment will be for expected losses from April 15 through the next two quarters and will cover 30% of expected losses.

The payment limit will be $125,000 per commodity with an overall limit of $250,000 per individual or entity. Qualified commodities must have experienced a 5% price decrease between January and April 2020. USDA is expediting the rulemaking process for the direct payment program and expects to begin sign-up for the new program by early May and to get payments out to farmers by the end of May or early June.

Those livestock producers filing for a CFAP payment should consider keeping a monthly inventory of livestock on their farms. Expect more details to be forthcoming from the USDA regarding these requirements and your interaction with your local FSA office.

Steve Johnson is an ISU Extension farm management specialist. Contact sdjohns@iastate.edu

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