December Illinois FSA Newsletter

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[December 28, 2017]    From the Desk of the SED - With the Holiday season upon us, take time to reflect over the past year and all of the accomplishments that we have made. 

With every New Year comes new challenges and new beginnings.  Whether it be more new programs; new changes to old programs or bidding goodbye to numerous dedicated FSA retiring employees and welcoming new employees aboard. 

As we begin 2018, let us strive to achieve and maintain the Strategic Goals that Secretary Purdue has set forth for One USDA. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all Illinois producers, FSA employees and their families! 

William J. Graff
State Executive Director
Illinois FSA Office 

USDA Announces Streamlined Guaranteed Loans and Additional Lender Category for Small-Scale Operators 

Options Help More Beginning, Small and Urban Producers Gain Access to Credit

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of a streamlined version of USDA guaranteed loans, which are tailored for smaller scale farms and urban producers. The program, called EZ Guarantee Loans, uses a simplified application process to help beginning, small, underserved and family farmers and ranchers apply for loans of up to $100,000 from USDA-approved lenders to purchase farmland or finance agricultural operations.   

A new category of lenders will join traditional lenders, such as banks and credit unions, in offering USDA EZ Guarantee Loans. Microlenders, which include Community Development Financial Institutions and Rural Rehabilitation Corporations, will be able to offer their customers up to $50,000 of EZ Guaranteed Loans, helping to reach urban areas and underserved producers.  Banks, credit unions and other traditional USDA-approved lenders, can offer customers up to $100,000 to help with agricultural operation costs.  

EZ Guarantee Loans offer low interest rates and terms up to seven years for financing operating expenses and 40 years for financing the purchase of farm real estate.  USDA-approved lenders can issue these loans with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) guaranteeing the loan up to 95 percent.   

More information about the available types of FSA farm loans can be found at or by contacting your local FSA office.  

USDA Microloans Help Farmers Purchase Farmland and Improve Property 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering farm ownership microloans, creating a new financing avenue for farmers to buy and improve property. These microloans are especially helpful to beginning or underserved farmers, U.S. veterans looking for a career in farming, and those who have small and mid-sized farming operations.  

The microloan program has been hugely successful, providing more than 16,800 low-interest loans, totaling over $373 million to producers across the country. Microloans have helped farmers and ranchers with operating costs, such as feed, fertilizer, tools, fencing, equipment, and living expenses since 2013. Seventy percent of loans have gone to new farmers.  

Now, microloans will be available to also help with farm land and building purchases, and soil and water conservation improvements. FSA designed the expanded program to simplify the application process, expand eligibility requirements and expedite smaller real estate loans to help farmers strengthen their operations. Microloans provide up to $50,000 to qualified producers, and can be issued to the applicant directly from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA).  

To learn more about the FSA microloan program visit microloans, or contact your local FSA office. 

Unauthorized Disposition of Grain 

If loan grain has been disposed of through feeding, selling or any other form of disposal without prior written authorization from the county office staff, it is considered unauthorized disposition.  The financial penalties for unauthorized dispositions are severe and a producer’s name will be placed on a loan violation list for a two-year period.  Always call before you haul any grain under loan.  If you have any questions concerning the movement of grain under loan, please contact your local county FSA Office. 

Signature Policy 

Using the correct signature when doing business with FSA can save time and prevent a delay in program benefits. The following are FSA signature guidelines:   

A married woman shall sign her given name: Mrs. Mary Doe, not Mrs. John Doe

For a minor, FSA requires the minor's signature and one from an eligible parent

Note, by signing the applicable document, the parent is liable for actions of the minor and may be liable for refunds, liquidated damages, etc.  

When signing on one’s behalf the signature must agree with the name typed or printed on the form, or be a variation that does not cause the name and signature to be in disagreement.  Example - John W. Smith is on the form.  The signature may be John W. Smith or J.W. Smith or J. Smith.  Or Mary J. Smith may be signed as Mrs. Mary Joe Smith, M.J. Smith, Mary Smith, etc.   

FAXED signatures will be accepted for certain forms and other documents provided the acceptable program forms are approved for FAXED signatures.  Producers are responsible for the successful transmission and receipt of FAXED information.   

Examples of documents not approved for FAXED signatures include:   

*Promissory note

*Assignment of payment

*Joint payment authorization

*Acknowledgement of commodity certificate purchase

Spouses may sign documents on behalf of each other for FSA and CCC programs in which either has an interest, unless written notification denying a spouse this authority has been provided to the county office.   

Spouses shall not sign on behalf of each other as an authorized signatory for partnerships, joint ventures, corporations or other similar entities.   

Any member of the general partnership can sign on behalf of the general partnership and bind all members unless the Articles of Partnership are more restrictive.  Spouses may sign on behalf of each other’s individual interest in a partnership, unless notification denying a spouse that authority is provided to the county office.  Acceptable signatures for general partnerships, joint ventures, corporations, estates, and trusts shall consist of an indicator “by” or “for” the individual’s name, individual’s name and capacity, or individual’s name, capacity, and name of entity.  

For additional clarification on proper signatures contact your local County FSA office. 

Payment Limitations by Program 

The 2014 Farm Bill established a maximum dollar amount for each program that can be received annually, directly or indirectly, by each person or legal entity.  Payment limitations vary by program for 2014 through 2018. 

Below is an overview of payment limitations by program. 

Commodity and Price Support Programs

The annual limitation for the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, Loan Deficiency Payments (LDPs) and Market Loan Gains is $125,000 total. 

Conservation Programs

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) annual rental payment and incentive payment is limited to $50,000. CRP contracts approved before Oct. 1, 2008, may exceed the limitation, subject to payment limitation rules in effect on the date of contract approval. 

The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) has an annual limit of $200,000 per disaster event.  The Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) has an annual limit of $500,000 per disaster event. 

Disaster Assistance Programs

The annual limitation of $125,000 applies to the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP).  The total payments received under ELAP, LFP and LIP may not exceed $125,000.  A separate limitation of $125,000 applies to Tree Assistance Program (TAP) payments. There is also a separate $125,000 payment limit for the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). 

Payment limitations also apply to Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs.  Contact your local NRCS office more information. 

For more information on FSA payment limitations by program, visit 2015/payment_eligibility_payment_

2018 Acreage Reporting Dates in Illinois are: 

September 30, 2017               aquaculture,
Christmas trees,
turfgrass sod, f

December 15, 2017 
fall seeded small grains,
and perennial forage

January 2, 2018                      

January 15, 2018                   
plums, s
other perennial crops 

June 15, 2018                         cucumbers (planted 5/1 – 5/31) 

July 15, 2018                         
all other spring and summer planted crops (corn, soybeans, pumpkins, sweet corn, etc.)   

August 15, 2018                     
cabbage (planted 6/1 – 7/20) 

September 15, 2018                 cucumbers (planted 6/1 – 8/15)

The following exceptions apply to the above acreage reporting dates:  

*If the crop has not been planted by the above acreage reporting date, then the acreage must be reported no later than 15 calendar days after planting is completed.

*If a producer acquires additional acreage after the above acreage reporting date, then the acreage must be reported no later than 30 calendars days after purchase or acquiring the lease.  Appropriate documentation must be provided to the county office.

*If a perennial forage crop is reported with the intended use of “left standing,” or “seed,” then the acreage must be reported by July 15th.  Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) policy holders should note that the acreage reporting date for NAP covered crops is the earlier of the applicable dates or 15 calendar days before grazing or harvesting of the crop begins.  In order to comply with FSA program eligibility requirements, all producers are encouraged to visit their local FSA office to file an accurate crop certification report by the applicable deadline.  For questions regarding crop certification and crop loss reports, please contact your local FSA office.

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Maintaining the Quality of Farm-Stored Loan Grain 

Bins are ideally designed to hold a level volume of grain.  When bins are overfilled and grain is heaped up, airflow is hindered and the chance of spoilage increases. 

Producers who take out marketing assistance loans and use the farm-stored grain as collateral should remember that they are responsible for maintaining the quality of the grain through the term of the loan. 

USDA Processing Pending Conservation Reserve Program Continuous Enrollment Offers 

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will process many pending eligible offers for land enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and will temporarily suspend accepting most new offers until later in the 2018 fiscal year. 

All current, eligible CRP continuous enrollment offers made through September 30, 2017, except for those made under the Pollinator Habitat Initiative (CP42), will be approved,  Additionally, FSA is temporarily suspending acceptance of most offers going forward to provide time to review CRP allocation levels, and to avoid exceeding the statutory cap of 24 million acres.  

The CRP acreage cap is a provision of the 2014 Farm Bill. Current enrollment is about 23.5 million acres nationwide.  USDA is accepting all pending continuous enrollment offers that were made beginning on May 4, 2017, and extending through September 30, 2017, except Pollinator Habitat Initiative offers.   Pollinator acreage offers are being declined because the program has met its acreage enrollment goal.  Effective immediately, USDA is suspending acceptance of all new CRP continuous offers received or submitted after September 30, 2017.  The suspension will continue until later in the 2018 fiscal year.  However, FSA will continue to accept eligible offers for CRP Grasslands enrollment.   

In return for enrolling in CRP, USDA, through FSA, provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Landowners enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years.  CRP pays farmers and ranchers who remove sensitive lands from production and plant certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat. Payment totals for 2017 were announced earlier this week totaling over $1.6 billion.  

For more information about CRP, contact your local FSA office or visit  To locate your local FSA office, visit http://offices.  

Marketing Assistance Available for 2017 Crops 

The 2014 Farm Bill authorized 2014-2018 crop year Marketing Assistance Loans (MALs) and Loan Deficiency Payments (LDPs). 

MALs provide financing and marketing assistance for 2017 feed grains, soybeans and other oilseeds, pulse crops, rice, peanuts, cotton, wool and honey.  MALs provide producers interim financing after harvest to help them meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are typically at harvest-time lows. 

A producer who is eligible to obtain an MAL, but agrees to forgo the loan, may obtain an LDP if such a payment is available. 

To be eligible for an MAL or an LDP, producers must have a beneficial interest in the commodity, in addition to other requirements.  A producer retains beneficial interest when control of and title to the commodity is maintained.  For an LDP, the producer must retain beneficial interest in the commodity from the time of planting through the date the producer filed Form CCC-633EZ (page 1) in the FSA County Office.  For more information, producers should contact their local FSA county office or view the LDP Fact Sheet. 

Tree Assistance Program (TAP) Sign-up 

Orchardists and nursery tree growers who experience losses from natural disasters must submit a TAP application either 90 calendar days after the disaster event or the date when the loss is apparent.  TAP was authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 as a permanent disaster program.  TAP provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.  

Eligible tree types include trees, bushes or vines that produce an annual crop for commercial purposes.  Nursery trees include ornamental, fruit, nut and Christmas trees that are produced for commercial sale.  Trees used for pulp or timber are ineligible.  

To qualify for TAP, orchardists must suffer a qualifying tree, bush or vine loss in excess of 15 percent mortality from an eligible natural disaster.  The eligible trees, bushes or vines must have been owned when the natural disaster occurred; however, eligible growers are not required to own the land on which the eligible trees, bushes and vines were planted.   

If the TAP application is approved, the eligible trees, bushes and vines must be replaced within 12 months from the date the application is approved.  The cumulative total quantity of acres planted to trees, bushes or vines, for which a producer can receive TAP payments, cannot exceed 500 acres annually.  

NAP Application for Coverage Deadline for 2018 Crops 

Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) applications for coverage are due at different times, depending on the crop being insured.   

2018 NAP Application Closing Dates: 

August 31, 2017 - canola

September 1, 2017 - value loss crops, such as, aquaculture, Christmas trees, ornamental nursery, and turfgrass sod

September 30, 2017 - mechanically harvested forage, grazed forage, and fall seeded small grains.

November 20, 2017 - bi-annual and perennial crops, such as apples, asparagus, blueberries, caneberries, cherries, grapes, hops, nectarines, pecans, peaches, pears, plums, and strawberries.

December 1, 2017 - honey

March 15, 2018 - spring and summer planted NAP crops

May 1, 2018 – 2019 nursery crops

Eligible producers can apply for 2018 NAP coverage at their local FSA Office using form CCC-471, Application for Coverage.  The service fee for basic NAP coverage is the lesser of $250 per crop or $750 per producer per administrative county, not to exceed a total of $1,875 for a producer with farming interest in multiple counties.  Producers interested in buy-up coverage must pay a premium, in addition to the service fee.  The maximum premium will be $6,563.  

Producer meeting the definition of a socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher, beginning farmer or rancher or limited resource farmer or rancher will have service fees waived. Producers meeting this definition that choose to purchase buy-up coverage will also have service fees waived and the premium will be capped at $3,282.  

Farm Storage Facility Loans 

FSA’s Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program provides low-interest financing to producers to build or upgrade storage facilities and to purchase portable (new or used) structures, equipment and storage and handling trucks.  

The low-interest funds can be used to build or upgrade permanent facilities to store commodities. Eligible commodities include corn, grain sorghum, rice, soybeans, oats, peanuts, wheat, barley, minor oilseeds harvested as whole grain, pulse crops (lentils, chickpeas and dry peas), hay, honey, renewable biomass, fruits, nuts and vegetables for cold storage facilities, floriculture, hops, maple sap, rye, milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, meat and poultry (unprocessed), eggs, and aquaculture (excluding systems that maintain live animals through uptake and discharge of water).  Qualified facilities include grain bins, hay barns and cold storage facilities for eligible commodities.    

Producers do not need to demonstrate the lack of commercial credit availability to apply. The loans are designed to assist a diverse range of farming operations, including small and mid-sized businesses, new farmers, operations supplying local food and farmers markets, non-traditional farm products, and underserved producers.  

To learn more about the FSA Farm Storage Facility Loan, visit  or contact your local FSA county office.  To find your local FSA county office, visit 

December Interest Rates and Important Dates to Remember

Illinois Farm Service Agency
3500 Wabash Ave.
Springfield, IL 62711

Phone: 217-241-6600 ext. 2
Fax: 855-800-1760

State Executive Director:
William J. Graff

Acting State Committee:
Jill Appell - Chairperson
Brenda Hill - Member
Joyce Matthews - Member
Gordon Stine - Member

Executive Officer:
Rick Graden
Administrative Officer:
Dan Puccetti

Divison Chiefs:
Doug Bailey
John Gehrke
Randy Tillman

To find contact information for your local office go to


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