Bringing acres back to row crop

Are you thinking about bringing new acres into row crop production in 2011? How would that affect your eligibility for USDA farm program benefits? What other information do you need to report to your local Farm Service Agency office for 2011?

If you haven’t signed up for the Direct and Countercyclical Payment program and the Average Crop Revenue Election yet this year, you need to do so to stay eligible. Sign-up deadline for DCP and ACRE is June 1, but you are encouraged to do it now. With spring planting only a couple months away, signing up now will ease potentially long wait times and scheduling conflicts that arise as the deadline approaches.

“Also, now is the time to check with your county FSA office to see if you have all your paperwork in order and the proper forms filled out,” says Beth Grabau, public relations and outreach specialist at the Iowa FSA state office in Des Moines. “Always, when in doubt, call your local FSA office for guidance.” The website www.fsa.
has helpful information, too.

Changes occur often to FSA programs and new farm programs enacted into law throughout the year. Your local FSA staff works hard to ensure you have all needed forms on file or that you are notified when extra forms or documentation is needed.

Grabau provides the following answers to questions from readers.

Question: I’m considering bringing land into production, land that has an existing farm number but it hasn’t been farmed in the past. What do I need to do?

Answer: First, let’s define past. In 1986, the highly erodible and wetland conservation compliance language was passed. At that time, all cropland was given a highly erodible land, or HEL, determination. Cropland was classified as being either highly erodible or non-highly erodible.

Producers were notified of the determination for each field. An HEL determination requires that an approved conservation system be applied to the land to be eligible for any USDA benefit.

If you are considering bringing new land with an existing number into production, review the determination for the field at your local FSA office. If a determination hasn’t been made on the area in question, file an AD-1026. An HEL determination will be made and if applicable, a conservation system will need to be applied to this new land being brought into production.

If a determination was made and it is HEL, follow the conservation system set up. This may require a review with NRCS. If the determination was non-highly erodible, no further action is needed.

Producers should also file an AD-1026 before installing new drainage tile, or repairing an existing drainage system, etc. Conducting these activities could be considered in violation of wetland provisions.

Conservation compliance violations can result in a penalty and in some cases ineligibility for FSA program benefits. These penalties can be severe, so please check before beginning any activity.

Question: We have some land we decided to not re-enroll into CRP during the last general sign-up and also some land that was not accepted into CRP. What do we need to do to bring this land back into row-crop production?

Answer: Generally, fields that were enrolled into the Conservation Reserve Program during a general sign-up are highly erodible. These fields require that an approved conservation system be applied before bringing this land back into production. Farmers should review the HEL determination and their conservation system with the local NRCS office. Remember, violation of conservation compliance regulations can result in a penalty and in some cases ineligibility of USDA farm program benefits.

Before making the decision about enrolling or re-enrolling land into CRP, review your conservation system and soil types. You may be able to use CRP to isolate problem areas and reduce your risk for conservation compliance-related issues.

This article published in the February, 2011 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.