The ongoing COVID-19 situation has changed the way your local Farm Service Agency office will be conducting business with producers this spring. Local FSA offices are using alternative methods to provide service and ensure compliance with FSA provisions.
Appointments can be made by phone, mail or email. Once producers have completed planting their 2020 spring crops, they should contact the local FSA office to obtain their certification maps in order to complete the annual acreage certification process.
The following is a four-step process for producers to complete their 2020 acreage report:
1. Obtain maps. Your local FSA office can provide farm or tract maps upon your request. They can provide them through the mail or email. Once received, write in a legible pen what crop is planted in each field, including hay ground, grassed waterways, terraces, Conservation Reserve Program, etc., and the approximate acreage amounts in those areas.
2. Enter planting date. Fill in the planting date for each field below the crop type.
3. List the shares. If the producer shares the crop with another producer, list each individual or entity and their respective share of the crop. The total of listed shares must equal 100%.
4. Offer alternate method. If the producer is unable to legibly write the crop, planting date, acres and producer shares (if necessary), then the producer should provide a sheet of paper along with the map that lists the field number, the crop and date planted and shares.
Once you have all the acreage on your tract maps accounted for, contact your local FSA office to schedule a phone appointment to go through your maps. This can be handled in one of two ways:
Option 1. You may return your completed maps to the county office for loading into the crop certification software via mail, email, fax or the drop box located outside your local FSA office.
Option 2. FSA staff can contact you and go through your maps over the phone together. This includes FSA updating your crops, dates, acres or shares, and entering them into the crop certification software and allowing you to provide any other pertinent information.
In either case, you will subsequently receive the printed acreage form for your signature in the mail or via email. Indicate to FSA your preference when contacted. Then return your signed FSA Form 578 via mail, email, fax or drop box located at your local FSA office. Deadline is July 15 for filing this form annually.
Filing an accurate and timely acreage report for all crops and land is important. This report is an essential part of determining your eligibility for critical programs, including crop insurance, price support, disaster relief and conservation programs.
Producers should plan to keep good records at planting each year and file a timely FSA Form 578. Annually these records include the date, the crop and acres planted, and producer shares along with the reference to the farm number. Do not forget you will need to include hay ground, grassed waterways, terraces, CRP, etc.
Remember, both the FSA office and your crop insurance agent will need accurate planting information and your signature when you complete the acreage certification FSA Form 578. The planted acres on this form are verification for your crop insurance agent in determining your 2020 crop insurance coverage, and thus your final premium to be paid this fall.
USDA announced additional disaster assistance available to crop producers impacted by drought and excessive moisture or rainfall during 2018 and 2019. The Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) can provide potential payments to producers who suffered either of these types of losses. Contact your local FSA office in the county where the crop loss occurred to apply for WHIP+ assistance.
For drought, a producer is eligible if any area of the county in which the loss occurred was rated D3 (Extreme Drought) or higher on the U.S. Drought Monitor during 2018 or 2019. Because livestock losses are covered by other disaster recovery programs offered through the FSA, these losses are not eligible for WHIP+.
To be eligible for WHIP+ payments, producers must have suffered losses on certain crops in counties with a Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or a Secretarial Disaster (primary counties only). A list of counties that received qualifying declaration and designations is available at farmers.gov/recover/whip-plus.
Johnson is an ISU Extension farm management specialist. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.