Sign-up ends Feb. 26 for CRP general enrollment

By Latham Farley - FSA News

Farmers and landowners are reminded that the general enrollment period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will end on Feb. 26, 2016.

Participants in CRP establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”) to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands. In return, FSA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. At times when commodity prices are low, enrolling sensitive lands in CRP can be especially attractive to farmers and landowners, as it softens the economic hardship for landowners at the same time that it provides ecological benefits. Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish native plant species on marginal agricultural lands for the primary purpose of preventing soil erosion and improving water quality and related benefits of reducing loss of wildlife habitat.

Contracts on 1.64 million acres of CRP are set to expire on Sept. 30, 2016. Producers with expiring contracts or producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP.

Farming operation changes

Producers who have bought or sold land, or added or dropped rented land from their operation must report those changes to the FSA office as soon as possible. A copy of the deed or recorded land contract for purchase property is needed to maintain accurate records with FSA. Failure to do so can lead to possible program ineligibility and penalties. While making record updates, be sure to update signature authorizations. Making record changes now will save time in the spring.

Also, if you have made any entity changes such as forming a trust, LLC or are changing shares within an entity, please contact our office to update your records. This saves our time and yours!

USDA expands microloans

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has begun offering farm ownership microloans, creating a new financing avenue for farmers to buy and improve property. These microloans will be especially helpful to beginning or underserved farmers, U.S. veterans looking for a career in farming, and those who have small and mid-sized farming operations. Microloans have helped farmers with operating costs, such as feed, fertilizer, tools, fencing, equipment, and living expenses since 2013.

Now, microloans will be available to also help with farm land and building purchases, and soil and water conservation improvements. FSA designed the expanded program to simplify the application process, expand eligibility requirements and expedite smaller real estate loans to help farmers strengthen their operations. Microloans provide up to $50,000 to qualified producers, and can be issued to the applicant directly from the FSA.

Individuals interested in applying for a FSA microloan or would like to discuss other farm loan programs available, should contact the Mercer County FSA office to setup an appointment with a Loan Approval Official. Please note, the farm loan team that cover Shelby County is located in Mercer County. Appointments can be made to meet in the Shelby County FSA office.

By Latham Farley

FSA News

The writer is the executive director for the Shelby County FSA Committee and can be reached at 937-492-6520, ext. 2.

The writer is the executive director for the Shelby County FSA Committee and can be reached at 937-492-6520, ext. 2.