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Working with your FSA and filing for assistance

By Staff | Jun 8, 2020

Plan how best to work with your local FSA office

The ongoing Covid-19 situation has changed the way your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office will be conducting business with producers this spring. Local FSA offices are currently using alternative methods to provide service and ensure compliance with FSA provisions. Appointments can be made by phone, mail, or e-mail – rather than face-to-face interactions. Once producers have completed planting their 2020 spring crops, they should contact the local FSA office to obtain their certification maps to complete the annual acreage certification process.

The following is a 4-step process provided by a county FSA office in Iowa to their producers for completing their 2020 acreage report:

– Your local FSA office can provide farm/tract maps upon your request. They can provide them through the mail or e-mail. Once received, write in a legible pen what crop is planted in each field, including hay ground, grassed waterways, terraces, CRP, etc. and the approximate acreage amounts in those areas.

– Next enter the planting date for each field below the crop type.

– If the producer shares the crop with another producer(s); list each individual/entity and their respective share of the crop. The total of listed shares must equal 100%.

– If the producer is unable to legibly write the crop, planting date, acres and producer shares (if necessary); then provide a sheet of paper along with the map that lists the field number, the crop, date planted, acres and shares.

Once you have all the acreage on your tract maps accounted for, contact your local FSA office to schedule a phone appointment to go through your maps. This can be handled in one of two ways:

– Option 1. You may return your completed maps to the county office for loading into the crop certification software via mail, e-mail, fax, or the drop box located outside your local FSA office.

– Option 2. FSA staff can contact you and go through your maps over the phone together. This includes FSA updating your crops/dates/acres/shares and entering them into the crop certification software and allowing you to provide any other pertinent information.

In either case, you will subsequently receive the printed acreage form for your signature in the mail or via e-mail. Indicate to FSA your preference when contacted. Then return your signed FSA Form 578 via mail, e-mail, fax or drop box located at your local FSA office. The deadline is July 15 for filing this form annually.

Producers should plan to keep good records at planting each year and file a timely FSA Form 578. Annually these records include the date, the crop and acres planted, and producer shares along with the reference to the farm number. Do not forget you will need to include hay ground, grassed waterways, terraces, CRP, etc.

Filing an accurate and timely acreage report for all crops and land is important. This report is an essential part of determining your eligibility for critical programs, including crop insurance, price support, disaster relief and conservation programs.

Remember, both the FSA office and your crop insurance agent will need accurate planting information and your signature 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 this fall.

WHIP+ Payments for 2018 and 2019 crops

USDA announced additional disaster assistance available to crop producers impacted by drought and excessive moisture/rainfall during the years 2018 and 2019. The Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) can provide potential payments to producers who suffered either of these types of losses. Contact your local FSA office in the county where the crop loss occurred to apply for WHIP+ assistance.

For drought, a producer is eligible if any area of the county in which the loss occurred was rated D3 (Extreme Drought) or higher on the U.S. Drought Monitor during calendar years 2018 or 2019. Because livestock losses are covered by other disaster recovery programs offered through the FSA, these losses are not eligible for WHIP+.

To be eligible for WHIP+ payments, producers must have suffered losses on certain crops in counties with a Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or a Secretarial Disaster (primary counties only). A WHIP+ fact sheet and a list of counties that received qualifying declaration and designations is available at: www.farmers.gov/recover/whip-plus.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Enrollment

The USDA announced the producer signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) allocated by Congress through the CARES Act that will begin on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. That enrollment will be through your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office with additional CFAP details and the enrollment process at www.farmers.gov/cfap

The $16 billion available for CFAP includes direct payments for farmers and includes $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 officials are urging farmers to begin the paperwork process using an online calculator. These payments will be coupled with actual production and based on losses due to price declines and supply chain disruptions from COVID-19. To qualify for a payment, a commodity must have declined in price by at least 5% between January and April 2020.

Producers will be paid based on inventory subject to price risk held as of Jan. 15, 2020. A single payment will be made based on 50% of a producer’s 2019 total production or the 2019 inventory still not sold as of Jan. 15, 2020, whichever is smaller. This amount for each crop will be multiplied by 50% and then multiplied by the commodity’s applicable payment rates featured below:

CFAP payment rates by commodity:

– Corn is $0.32 a bushel for the CARES Act payment rate and $.035 a bushel for CCC payment rate.

– Soybeans is $0.45 a bushel for the CARES Act payment rate and $.50 a bushel for CCC payment rate.

Producers must provide the following information as a part of their CFAP application:

– Total 2019 production for the commodity that suffered a 5% or more price decline, and

– Total 2019 production that wasn’t sold as of Jan. 15, 2020.

This video demonstrates how the new CFAP application form can be downloaded, completed, signed, dated, and then mailed or e-mailed to your local FSA office:

www.youtube.com/embed/Rne7-cIVeFU

Producers should make an extra copy of this completed CFAP application form for their records. Attach any proof of how you determined the 2019 total production by crop and the 2019 production that was “not sold” as of Jan. 15, 2020.

The CFAP program will be open to all producers, regardless of commodity or size. Some farmers may not have traditionally worked regularly with FSA. Once signup begins, some producers may want to contact their local FSA office to schedule an appointment. In that case, FSA staff will help those producers complete portions of form CCC-902 Farm Operating Plan. Other forms will also be needed to apply for CFAP, although if you’ve dealt with FSA before, it’s likely they already have these on file.

These forms include:

– CCC-901-Identifies members of a farm that is a legal entity. Member information will be completed by legal entities and joint organizations to collect member names, addresses, tax ID numbers, and citizenship status.

– CCC-941-Reports your average adjusted gross income for programs where income restrictions apply.

– CCC-942-This certification reports income from farming, ranching, and forestry for those exceeding the adjusted gross income limitation.

– AD-1026-Ensures compliance with highly erodible land conservation and wetland conservation.

– AD-2047-Provides basic customer contact information.

– SF-3881-Collects your banking information to allow USDA to make payments to you via direct deposit.

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

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