News Briefs

Program Enrollment Now Open

Although a producers’ choice between Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) is completed and remains in effect through 2018, producers must still enroll their farm by signing a contract each year to receive coverage, says Farm Service Agency administrator Val Dolcini. The enrollment period will continue until Aug. 1, 2016.

Producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office to schedule an appointment to enroll. If a farm is not enrolled during the 2016 enrollment period, producers on that farm will not be eligible for financial assistance from programs should crop prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or revenue benchmarks established by the program.

Authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, the programs offer producers a safety net when there is a substantial drop in prices or revenues for covered commodities. Covered commodities include canola, corn, grain sorghum, oats, peanuts, dry peas, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed, wheat and other crops. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity. For more details regarding these programs, go to www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.

Closing A Farm Bill Loophole

USDA has finalized a rule to ensure that farm safety-net payments are issued only to active managers of farms that operate as joint ventures or general partnerships, consistent with the direction and authority provided by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill. The action, which exempts family farm operations, closes a loophole where individuals who were not actively part of farm management still received payments.

“The federal farm safety-net programs are designed to protect against unanticipated changes in the marketplace for those who actively share in the risk of that farming operation,” said ag secretary Tom Vilsack. “To ensure that help goes to those who genuinely need it, such as America’s farm families, the Farm Bill authorized USDA to close a loophole and limit payments from those not involved on a daily basis in nonfamily farm management.”

Since 1987, the broad definition of “actively engaged” resulted in some general partnerships and joint ventures adding managers to the farming operation, qualifying for more payments, that did not substantially contribute to management. The rule applies to operations seeking more than one farm manager, and requires measureable, documented hours and key management activities each year.

Under certain conditions, some operations may be allowed up to three qualifying managers.In Brief

Producers Call For Grading Change

At a public meeting held by the Georgia Federal State Inspection Service, producer Tim Garrett,  speaking on behalf of himself and the producer-owned Emanuel Peanut and Grain buying point, asked GAFSIS officials and the Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture for a level playing field when it comes to peanut grading or else “we will not survive,” he said.

The meeting was held to discuss possible reasons for the buying point having 27.3 percent Segregation 2 grades.

T. E. Moye, GAFSIS president, said that staff review the grading procedures and check samples. He said, “We check and double check to make certain that inspectors and supervisors know their responsibility, and if we know there is trouble, we will respond.”

He also noted that it is difficult to assess the situation several months after the grading was done.

Producers said they would support increasing the limit for being graded Seg. 2 for damage from 2.49 percent to 3.49 percent with no change in the final shelled product. The recommendations have also been endorsed by the Georgia Peanut Commission and the Georgia Farm Bureau Peanut Committee.

Garrett said that if the limit had been 3.49 percent, 60 to 70 percent of the problems would have been eliminated. “It is inconceivable for a farmer to lose two-thirds of the value of their crop because of that one percent.”

Growers suggested a re-evaluation of the price value of $120 per ton for Seg. 2 grades since 97 percent of the peanuts are good peanuts. Other possible causes, including weather, soil types, irrigated versus dry-land, varieties and calcium, for the amount of Seg. 2 grades are being examined.

Commodity Certificates Approved

Beginning with the 2015 crop marketing year, the Secretary of Agriculture may issue commodity certificates on peanuts. Producers are encouraged to purchase the commodity certificates to be exchanged for outstanding loan collateral rather than forfeit the loan collateral, or peanuts, to the Commodity Credit Corporation at loan maturity.

The certificates may be used in acquiring marketing assistance loan commodities pledged to CCC for a commodity loan. FSA is the only location to issue these certificates, and this will assist growers as they reach their payment limit of $125,000 in the peanut program.