Texas cotton farmers should make an appointment with their local Farm Service Agency office as soon as possible to sign up for the Cotton Assistance Transition Program. CTAP is an interim payment option provided through the Agriculture Act of 2014 to assist cotton farmers until they are eligible for the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) available in 2015.
“We urge cotton farmers to make an appointment and come in before Oct. 1,” says Judith Canales, Executive Director of the Texas Farm Service Agency in College Station.
Payments for 2014 will be based on 2013 cotton base acres for producers who apply and meet eligibility standards. Farmers must apply to receive CTAP payments.
Texas AgriLife Extension economists estimate that payments for the 2014 crop will be slightly more than 5 cents per pound.
Payments for the 2014 crop year will be made on or after Oct.1, 2014. Payments for 2015 will be issued on or after Oct. 1, 2015.
“Under CTAP, there is no requirement that farmers plant cotton in order to be eligible for payment,” Canales said. “However, eligible producers must have adequate share in enough cropland acres to cover their claimed interest in cotton base acres on form CCC-957.”
CTAP payments will be available to some farmers in 2015 if they grow cotton in counties not included in STAX but who meet eligibility requirements.
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Signup for the 2014 CTAP program began Aug. 11, 2014, and will continue through Oct. 7, 2014. For the 2015 crop year, application period will begin after Oct. 1, 2014, and will end July 31, 2015.
Canales expects heavy participation from Texas cotton farmers and urges producers to make appointments as soon as possible and to gather information necessary to show eligibility. “We want to make sure we have the best representation possible for Texas farmers,” she added.
Payment limitations do apply to CTAP. Payments for 2014 and 2015 will be limited to $40,000 per person or entity. Also, persons or legal entities with an average adjusted gross income exceeding $900,000 will not be eligible for CTAP. Tax years 2010, 2011 and 2012 will be used to calculate AGI. For 2015 AGI limits, tax years begin with 2012 and run through 2013.
Eligibility requirements for CTAP include:
- Compliance with highly erodible land conservation and wetland conservation requirements on all land;
- Compliance with average AGI limitations;
- Meet requirements considered actively engaged in farming;
- Devote acreage equal to cotton base acreage to an agricultural use;
- Effectively control noxious weeds on the farm according to sound agricultural practices;
- File an acreage report with respect to all crops and all cropland on the farm; and
- Notify FSA of a transfer of or change of interest of a producer.
Canales said the change in farm policy through the Agriculture Act of 2014 has created a new learning curve for farmers and USDA agencies but adds that Texas FSA is a familiar agency for the state’s farmers with a long history of service. “We have a responsibility to serve our state,” she said. “We are proud to serve Texas farmers.”
A big challenge this year, she said, is running multiple (some new) programs simultaneously. In addition to CTAP, signup begins Sept. 2 for the new Margin Protection dairy program as well as the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP).
Signup for LIP and LFP began April 15 and Canales said FSA made payments that week. “Response has been tremendous,” she said. “Nationally, payments now total $2.3 billion and Texas FSA has paid more than $300 million. Still, we urge producers to make appointments and come into FSA offices and sign up.”
She said the livestock programs are retroactive to 2011. “This is a large effort for producers and for the FSA staff.”
Though participation in these programs has been exceptional, Canales says some eligible producers have not signed up.
She recently met a producer in an office who had not heard about the livestock programs. She recommended that producers with internet access check the USDA-FSA website or signup to receive electronic program updates through USDA’s email news service. To subscribe, go to .
The critical chore for now, she said, is to apply for available benefits. “We want to help Texas farmer recover and rebuild.”