Tag Archives: FSA

It’s been a tough winter for farmers, especially for beef and dairy producers. Extreme weather across a good chunk of the nation have resulted in some excessive livestock deaths.

Ranchers who have experienced those losses may be eligible to recover some of those losses, thanks to the Livestock Indemnity Program.  A Drovers article says the program provides needed benefits to eligible livestock producers who suffer the deaths of livestock outside the normal range of mortality, due to conditions like adverse weather, disease, and predator attacks.

Eligible losses don’t automatically trigger payments. Livestock owners must provide evidence of such losses to the Farm Service Agency. To qualify for program benefits, livestock must have died in excess of normal mortality rates as a direct result of eligible loss conditions, such as weather or predators.

Livestock farmers also qualify for the benefit if livestock were injured due to an eligible loss condition and were sold at a reduced price because of that injury. If death losses occur, producers are reminded to record the date, take pictures, and report it directly to the Farm Service Agency.

House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson is trying to get out in front of another possible government shutdown. The first government shutdown temporarily shuttered Farm Service Agency offices across the country.

Politico says Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, is exploring possible ways to keep the FSA running in case government leaders can’t come to a budget agreement. Peterson says he didn’t know that agency staff in charge of getting the mandatory farm bill programs up and running didn’t get to continue working on that during the funding lapse.

Peterson is also trying to figure out if it’s possible to get arrangements in place for certain FSA workers to remain on the job during a potential shutdown. Peterson says farmers were asking him, “What’s going on? NRCS offices are open but FSA isn’t?” He was referring to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which was able to keep full staffing during the partial government shutdown, thanks to leftover money from fiscal 2018. “That’s hard to explain,” says Peterson.

As the partial federal shutdown continues, more issues are being raised about topics such as commodity trades, food aid and local farmer committees.

The partial shutdown entered its 35th day on Friday with no resolution in sight after competing bills failed in the U.S. Senate on Thursday.

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., sent Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Christopher Giancarlo and other members of the commission a letter Thursday expressing concerns about the effect of the commission’s shutdown on farmers, businesses and consumers.

“While the CFTC is shut down, the markets it regulates are still open,” wrote Stabenow. “I am deeply concerned that the government shutdown will leave our financial markets susceptible to undue risks. Shutting down the CFTC’s robust oversight of our futures and swaps markets endangers the U.S. economy and puts American jobs at risk.”

Stabenow raised a number of questions, including how the shutdown would affect the CFTC’s ability to maintain strong oversight of financial markets and protect consumers from risks such as cybersecurity threats.

“To what extent is the CFTC hindered in its ability to work with financial regulators in other countries during the government shutdown?,” she asked.

“How has the shutdown impacted the CFTC’s ability to continue its work on important cross-border issues, such as clearinghouse oversight and the potential financial market consequences of the ongoing Brexit negotiations in Europe?”

Stabenow also noted, “One of the most important functions of the CFTC is to accept applications from industry to become registered entities, process certifications and requests filed from registered entities regarding approval of new products and rules, and other requests for action from registered entities

“I am concerned that the shutdown has hindered industry from moving forward. How many requests from registered entities (or persons seeking to become registered entities) are on hold or being delayed because of the shutdown?”

Farmer-Elected Committees Raise Questions About Shutdown

The National Association of Farmer Elected Committees (NAFEC) has written a letter to Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce asking why the County Office Committees cannot function during the shutdown like county employees.

The NAFEC is a nonprofit organization composed of and led by the elected farmers who run each of the county USDA Farm Service Agency offices that make decisions on who qualifies for farm subsidies,

In the letter, the organization noted that the county committees (COCs) are the supervisors of the county executive directors (CEDs).

“The county committee is the only part of the government that is ground driven,” said NAFEC President Craig Turner. “The rest of the U.S. government is driven from the top down.”

National Association of Farmer Elected Committees — Letter to FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce https://goo.gl/…

Feeding America Says ‘Doors Open’ To Federal Employees

Apparently reacting to comments by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Thursday that he could not understand why upaid federal employees were going to food banks, Feeding America issued a statement in support of the employees:

“Feeding America and our network of 200 member food banks know that just one missed paycheck can be the difference between making ends meet and needing our help.

“We are increasingly concerned about the hardship imposed on federal employees and contractors who will soon miss a second paycheck. The unfortunate reality is that the government shutdown illustrates what food banks face every day — millions of hardworking Americans live paycheck to paycheck and are never far from becoming food insecure. Too many families must regularly make impossible choices between paying the rent and putting food on the table.

“According to a recent report by the Federal Reserve Board, 40 percent of American adults would be unable to absorb an emergency expense of just $400.

“Knowing this, and because of the very real danger the shutdown poses to so many affected workers, our network of 200 member food banks and 60,000 partner agencies have extended our hours, hosted pop-up mobile food distributions, and increased our supplies to meet the needs of our neighbors. We at Feeding America believe the shutdown must end immediately, but until then, we have our doors open to help federal workers and their families get through this difficult time.”

The Food Tank, an online think tank about food, on Thursday called on its supporters to donate to food banks to help federal employees.

“To support initiatives feeding federal workers, you can donate to organizations like World Central Kitchen, which is donating free meals, or Capital Area Food Bank, which is setting up free pop-up markets for employees in the D.C. area,” Danielle Nierenberg of Food Tank said in an appeal.

“To support a general relief fund for furloughed workers, you can donate to a fundraiser started by Deepak Chopra and GoFundMe that directs funds to nonprofits including World Central Kitchen, the National Diaper Bank Network, Feeding America, and the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that many Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices will reopen temporarily in the coming days to perform certain limited services for farmers and ranchers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recalled about 2,500 FSA employees to open offices on Thursday, January 17 and Friday, January 18, in addition to Tuesday, January 22, during normal business hours. The offices will be closed for the federal Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday, January 21.

In almost half of FSA locations, FSA staff will be available to assist agricultural producers with existing farm loans and to ensure the agency provides 1099 tax documents to borrowers by the Internal Revenue Service’s deadline.

“Until Congress sends President Trump an appropriations bill in the form that he will sign, we are doing our best to minimize the impact of the partial federal funding lapse on America’s agricultural producers,” Perdue said.  “We are bringing back part of our FSA team to help producers with existing farm loans.  Meanwhile, we continue to examine our legal authorities to ensure we are providing services to our customers to the greatest extent possible during the shutdown.”

Staff members will be available at certain FSA offices to help producers with specific services, including:

  • Processing payments made on or before December 31, 2018.
  • Continuing expiring financing statements.
  • Opening mail to identify priority items.

                                                                                          

Additionally, as an intermittent incidental duty, staff may release proceeds from the sale of loan security by signing checks jointly payable to FSA that are brought to the county office by producers.

Information on the locations of FSA offices to be open during this three-day window will be posted:

While staff are available in person during this three-day window, most available services can be handled over the phone. Producers can begin contacting staff on January 17 here.

Additionally, farmers who have loan deadlines during the lapse in funding do not need to make payments until the government shutdown ends.

Other FSA Programs and Services

Reopened FSA offices will only be able to provide the specifically identified services while open during this limited time. Services that will not be available include, but are not limited to:

  • New direct or facility loans.
  • New Farm loan guarantees.
  • New marketing assistance loans.
  • New applications for Market Facilitation Program (MFP).
  • Certification of 2018 production for MFP payments.
  • Dairy Margin Protection Program.
  • Disaster assistance programs, such as:
    • Livestock Indemnity Program.
    • Emergency Conservation Program.
    • Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program.
    • Livestock Forage Disaster Program.
    • Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish.

While January 15, 2019 had been the original deadline for producers to apply for MFP, farmers have been unable to apply since December 28, 2018, when FSA offices closed because of the lapse in federal funding.  Secretary Perdue has extended the MFP application deadline for a period of time equal to the number of business days FSA offices end up being closed, once the government shutdown ends. These announced days of limited staff availability during the shutdown will not constitute days open in calculating the extension. Producers who already applied for MFP and certified their 2018 production by December 28, 2018 should have already received their payments.

More information on MFP is available at www.farmers.gov/manage/mfp.

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says his agency is working with the Office of Management and Budget to find ways to reduce the impact of the government shutdown on farmers and ranchers.

Farm Service Agency offices across the country are closed and it’s causing several challenges for producers. “We’re working with OMB to see if we can find some relief in that area,” Perdue says on Fox Business. “We’re hoping to work up some strategies very soon to get these offices back open soon.” In the meantime, the Food and Drug Administration is planning to expand its daily food safety work amid the continuing lapse in funding. High-risk food safety inspections could start up again as soon as Tuesday.

Also, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service remains on the job. Perdue also tells Fox Business that the agency’s food safety work hasn’t been disrupted at all. “We’re not short cutting any type of food safety issues there at USDA in our meat processing,” he says. States are also hustling to get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program February benefits out to recipients starting this week, which Politico says is a big logistical and communications undertaking.

USDA Farm Service Agency county offices will not be operating after December 28, 2018, due to the lapse in appropriation. More information on USDA-wide resources and services can be found here.

Market Facilitation Program

Market Facilitation Program payments for producers that have already certified production with the Farm Service Agency will continue beyond January 1, 2019. Signup for the Market Facilitation Program ends on January 15, 2019. Secretary Perdue will determine if the deadline should be extended. You do not need to be finished with harvest to sign up. Farmers have until May 1, 2019, to certify production.

FSA Loan Guidance

Due to the lapse in federal government funding for all commodity loan activity has ceased as of January 3, 2019. This includes any loan activity conducted by DMA’s, LSA’s, and CMA’s. Access to the following automated FSA systems will no longer be available: Commodity Loan Processing System (CLPS), Cotton On-Line Processing System (COPS), Automated Cotton Reporting System (ACRS), and Centralized Cotton Redemption (CCR).

Commodities Pledged as Collateral for a Commodity Loan

Farm-stored commodities pledged as Commodity Credit Corporation collateral can be marketed (moved for purchase to a buyer) or fed, however, the following activities will not be processed while the government is shutdown:

  • Loan repayments
  • Loan disbursements
  • Refunds
  • Termination of transfers

During the shutdown, movement of collateral will be treated the same as loan collateral moved on a non-workday (same as a weekend or federal holiday). Producers with farm-stored loans may move loan collateral to non-designated structures during this period without prior written approval, provided the producer requests a CCC-681-1 Marketing Authorization on the next business day either by phone or in person.

FSA Farm Loan (Direct and Guaranteed) and FSA Farm Storage Facility Loans (FSFL)

Producers interested in FSA loan assistance may obtain more information for the following loan activity. The following sites provide the necessary forms to submit to apply along with information regarding the loan programs:

Please note these websites will not be current or maintained until funding issues have been resolved.

Loan applications will not be processed or considered until the lapse in federal funding has been resolved. 

Acceptance of FSA Farm Loan and FSA Farm Storage and Facility Loan Payments:

If borrowers wish to remit payments, checks and money orders can be sent by mail to the local FSA office. Payments will be credited after the lapse in federal funding has been resolved. The postmark on the envelope will be used as the received date of the payment. FSFL and Direct Loans will not be deemed delinquent if a borrower is unable to make a payment due to offices being closed because of a lapse in federal funding.

Release of Normal Income Security:

Customers requesting the release of proceeds from the sale of crops, livestock or other security are advised to contact the office after the lapse in federal funding has been resolved. You can find your local office by visiting https://www.farmers.gov/service-locator.