Since late last fall Indiana Prairie Farmer both in print and on the Web has attempted to notify farmers that signup dates for Farm Service Agency programs are somewhat earlier this year than normal. It also appears that the dates will remain firm and that signup dates will not be extended. At least that's the word coming from Julia Wickard of FSA in Indiana. She's the executive director of FSA in Indiana.
The deadline for signup in ACRE or the traditional Direct and Countercyclical Program, known as DCP, is June 1. USDA continues to insist that it is a mandatory deadline, and that late-filed applications will not be accepted.
If you are already in ACRE, you still need to check with your local FSA office about 2010. If not, you can sign up, although some sources report sign-up in ACRE for Indiana may not look as favorable this year.
However, note that this deadline isn't just about the ACRE program. If you want to participate in the traditional farm program, currently known as the DCP program, you must also enroll for 2010 by June 1.
Wickard understands that planters are rolling when the weather is fit and farmers have other things besides FSA programs on their mind. However, the sheer numbers of signups yet to be accomplished has the entire FSA staff across the state concerned, she reports.
Over 100,000 farms were enrolled in either ACRE or DCP in Indiana according to Indiana FSA numbers. As of April 9, 2010, about two weeks ago and less than two months to the mandatory signup deadline, only about 50% of Indiana's farms have been enrolled for 2010 in DCP or ACRE programs. That means roughly 50,000 farms that were enrolled a year ago still weren't enrolled when the data was collected a few days ago.
Wickard's concern is that unless the rate of enrollment picks up, many farmers who would be eligible for 2010 programs won't be enrolled by June 1, and therefore won't be in the programs.
One factor complicating the time it takes to enroll and a reason not to procrastinate until the last minute, rain or no rain to affect field work, is that all signatures of producers receiving a share of DCP or ACRE payments are required by June 1. Sometimes getting all the fine details worked out can take time.
Wickard urges farmers who haven't signed up to contact their local FSA office as soon as possible.