FARMERS and ranchers who plan to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs should register in advance, FSA administrator Juan M. Garcia recommended.
Producers are encouraged to report farm records and business structure changes to a local FSA Service Center before April 15. Enrollment for the disaster programs authorized under the 2014 farm bill, including the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, will begin by April 15.
"We expect significant interest in these programs," Garcia said. "Early registration should help improve the signup process and allow us to expedite implementation of the programs. I strongly encourage producers to complete their paperwork ahead of time."
Examples of updates or changes to report include:
* New producers or producers who have not reported farm records to FSA.
* Producers who have recently bought, sold or rented land. Those producers need to ensure that changes have been reported and properly recorded by local FSA county office personnel. Reports of purchased or sold property should include a copy of the land deed, and if land has been leased, then documentation should be provided that indicates that the producer had or has control of the acreage.
* Producers that have changed business structures (e.g., formed a partnership or limited liability company) need to ensure that these relationships and shares are properly recorded with FSA. Even family farms that have records on file may want to ensure that these are recorded accurately as it may affect payment limits.
Farm records can be updated during business hours at FSA Service Centers that administer the county where the farm or ranch is located. Producers can contact their local FSA Service Center in advance to find out what paperwork they may need.
While any producer may report farm records and changes to business structures, it is especially applicable to producers who suffered losses of livestock, livestock grazing, honeybees, farm-raised fish or trees or vines for 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014 and may be eligible for assistance through one of the four disaster programs.
For further information about disaster programs and USDA's farm bill implementation plan, visit FSA's 2014 farm bill webpage at www.fsa.usda.gov/farmbill?.