Spokespersons with the South Carolina Farm Service Agency, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced the agency is moving towards an electronic method for processing check payments from customers.
Similar announcements have been been made in any number of states, including those in the Carolina-Virginia readership area, North Carolina and Virginia.
Using the electronic method, when a producer submits a paper check payment, either in person or through the mail, the check will be converted into an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) using Over the Counter Channel (OTCnet), a web based application.
According to USDA South Carolina Farm Service Agency (FSA) executive director, Laurie C. Lawson, OTCnet will be implemented in a select number of counties throughout the state for 2012, but all counties will be transitioned into OTCnet by the end of 2013.
Lawson noted it is important for producers to have sufficient funds in their bank account because the electronic transfer of funds could occur within 24 hours.
FSA will hold the paper check for up to 14 calendar days to ensure that the transaction was successfully processed and then the check will be shredded. The producer will not receive the paper check back from FSA.
The new electronic check processing system will benefit the FSA and producers, said Lawson. She also pointed out the new system will reduce the possibility of losing or misplacing checks, speed up the check clearing process and reduce the potential for human error.
For more information regarding electronic check processing and to determine if OTCnet is offered in your county, contact your local FSA office.
In a similar move, the Virginia FSA has announced that producers in the state are being asked to enroll in the new GovDelivery system, which will provide notices, newsletters, and electronic reminders instead of a hard copy through the mail.
The Virginia office said FSA like many other organizations is trying to become more efficient and electronic notifications via email will be less expensive.