FSA: Production evidence needed

County Farm Service Agency offices are getting questions regarding production evidence. Why does FSA require this information if you want to participate in USDA farm programs? What evidence do you need to provide?

Those questions and others are answered in this month’s column. Thanks to Beth Grabau, public information and outreach specialist at the FSA office in Des Moines, for the answers. Kevin McClure, ag program specialist at FSA, helped her prepare this information. If you have questions or need more details, contact a county FSA office, or see www.fsa.usda.gov.

Question: No payments have been issued under the ACRE option of DCP. Since that is the case, I’m not sure why I have to provide production evidence to the local county FSA office.

Answer: Producers on participating ACRE program farms must annually report acreage and production of all cropland acreage on the farm to FSA. This requirement is independent of whether or not an ACRE payment is earned on the farm. Failure to do so may result in ineligibility.

Production reports are due by the acreage reporting date for the subsequent year. For the 2011 program year, production reports are to be submitted by July 15, 2012. Failure to file will result in the farm’s producers to be ineligible for any CCC-509 payments for the applicable contract period. This would also include the direct payments issued for the farm.

Question: I rented an ACRE farm for the first time in 2011; it’s the only farm I have that’s enrolled in this program. Who can, and how do I, report the production?

Answer: Certifying production will have some similarities to the way you have reported the acreage as it will be filed by farm and tract. The production evidence can be from the operator, owner or a producer with a share in the reported crop acreage, but the operator on the farm is the only one who can certify the production amount. All production is filed on a FSA-658.

Question: What’s the process for filing the FSA-658? What production records are needed? What’s the final date?

Answer: This is a certification of actual farm production. In certifying the farm’s production, the producer determines the amount of production and submits an accurate FSA-658. Information submitted on the FSA-658 must be supported by acceptable production records. Production evidence is to be retained for three crop years after it was initially certified, but it doesn’t have to be provided at time of certification. All production evidence for a crop is to be calculated on a farm and tract basis. Just the FSA-658 is to be provided by July 15, 2012, for the 2011 crop. No supporting documentation is required unless requested.

Question: What is meant by actual farm production? What’s to be included in the production to count?

Answer: Actual farm production means the entire farm’s harvested and appraised production, including grazed acres for all crops on the farm as well as any production that has a salvage value because it could not be marketed or sold. Harvested production includes that which is mechanically harvested, gathered by hand or grazed by livestock. Appraised production is the quantity that has been determined by FSA, RMA or a company that is reinsured by FCIC.

Note: FSA will not perform appraisals unless they are needed for the NAP program. Salvage value is the equivalent quantity that could not be marketed or sold. If the production is so damaged that it has no value, then this quantity will not be included as production for the crop.

Question: Most of my production is comingled between the tracts on the FSA farm numbers. How do I certify production?

Answer: If the production evidence is only available for the farm, then the production will be prorated to the tract level as required. In some cases, the best available production records include production that has been commingled between farms and tracts, years, irrigation status, or a combination of all of this. In these cases, total production will be prorated by the total acres from all farms.

Question: I realize FSA doesn’t need copies of my production evidence when I submit FSA-658, but I am required to retain the production evidence for three years to substantiate this production. What do these records consist of?

Answer: Production evidence records that are acceptable to FSA need to be verifiable or reliable. If the crop was sold or disposed of through commercial channels, these records could include commercial receipts or settlement sheets. If the crop has been stored, sold, fed to livestock or otherwise disposed of other than through commercial channels, then the documentary evidence may be accepted. Evidence may include scale tickets, pick records and other contemporary measurement.

It’s important that records can be verifiable or the information provided by the producer can be substantiated through an independent source that backs up the amount of production being reported. If verifiable records aren’t available, the producer will need to provide any documentation available, which could include, but not limited to, invoices for custom harvest, and ledgers of income corresponding to production.

This article published in the January, 2012 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.