If you’re like me, wintertime on the farm means closing out the year before and preparing for the next. From taxes to research, from fixing equipment to buying seed, it’s a busy time.
Winter is also an important time to visit your local USDA service center to discuss the many programs offered by the Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service, especially right now, when there are several signups occurring.
Farmer to farmer, I encourage you to visit your FSA county office soon, especially if you’re interested in enrolling in either the Agriculture Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage programs, the Conservation Reserve Program, or any other FSA programs.
The deadline to enroll in Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage is March 16, 2020. But we recommend you contact your FSA county office to set up an appointment and begin the enrollment process now.
Why? FSA county offices have multiple programs competing for staff time and attention, and ARC and PLC are important but complex. Plus, if you don’t enroll, you cannot receive a payment for the 2019 crop year should one trigger in the fall.
The good news: If you enroll now, you can adjust your elections any time before the deadline. You also have the option to sign up for both 2019 and 2020 at the same time.
For those not familiar with ARC and PLC, these programs provide financial protections to farmers from substantial drops in crop prices or revenues and are vital economic safety nets for American farms.
Meanwhile, the deadline is February 28 for the first general signup of the Conservation Reserve Program since 2016. This competitive program provides farmers and ranchers an income source for sensitive lands or lands less suited for farming.
Farmers and ranchers who enroll in CRP receive yearly payments for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving grasses and trees.
ARC, PLC, and CRP are all programs made possible by the 2018 Farm Bill. Our team has worked diligently to roll out the updates that Congress made to these programs as swiftly as possible, and we encourage you to consider enrolling or re-enrolling now.
Make an appointment today with your FSA county office.
Richard Fordyce is a fourth-generation farmer and the administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency, which provides a variety of safety net, farm loan, conservation, and disaster assistance programs to America’s farmers.