Beginning Jan. 9, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) will offer an early termination opportunity for certain
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts, making it easier
to transfer property to the next generation of farmers and
ranchers, including family members. The land that is eligible
for the early termination is among the least environmentally
sensitive land enrolled in CRP.
This change to the CRP program is just one of many that USDA has
implemented based on recommendations from the Land Tenure
Advisory Subcommittee formed by Agriculture Secretary Tom
Vilsack in 2015.
Normally if a landowner terminates a CRP contract early, they
are required to repay all previous payments plus interest. The
new policy waives this repayment if the land is transferred to a
beginning farmer or rancher through a sale or lease with an
option to buy. With CRP enrollment close to the
Congressionally-mandated cap of 24 million acres, the early
termination will also allow USDA to enroll other land with
higher conservation value elsewhere.
Acres terminated early from CRP under these land tenure
provisions will be eligible for priority enrollment
consideration into the CRP Grasslands, if eligible; or the
Conservation Stewardship Program or Environmental Quality
Incentives Program, as determined by the Natural Resources
According to the Tenure, Ownership and Transition of
Agricultural Land survey, conducted by USDA in 2014, U.S.
farmland owners expect to transfer 93 million acres to new
ownership during 2015-2019. This represents 10 percent of all
farmland across the nation. Details on the early termination
opportunity will be available starting on Jan. 9, 2017, at local
USDA service centers. For more information about CRP and to find
out if your acreage is eligible for early contract termination,
contact your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office or go online
at www.fsa.usda.gov/crp. To locate your local FSA office, visit
Conduct USDA Business Online by Creating an eAUTHENTICATION
The Internet allows you, the customer, access to USDA
information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can fill out
and submit electronic forms (eForms) any time of the day or
anywhere you have Internet access. This new service delivery
option allows you to complete and file your own forms or
applications online, because your signature is already
electronically "on file."
Information submitted to the Federal Government remains safe and
secure because every customer has a unique User ID and password;
only authorized USDA employees can access your information. It's
safe, saves paper, saves a visit to your local USDA Service
Center and provides electronic tracking of all your USDA
How to Sign Up for eAuth :
Begin the process by reviewing the information at the USDA
Website https://www.eauth.usda.gov. This website describes the
services available for Level 1 and Level 2 Accounts. Level 1 and
Level 2 accounts require that you have an email address so you
can register, create a customer profile, and be able to respond
to a confirmation email. Level 1 Accounts do not require you to
provide proof of your identity at a local USDA Service Center.
Level 1 Accounts provide limited access to certain USDA Web site
portals that require no authentication or authorization. A Level
2 Account does require a visit to a USDA Service Center with
proof of your identity. That is because a Level 2 account allows
you access to complete and submit documents and forms
LEVEL 1 ACCOUNT
STEP 1. To obtain a Level 1 Account, you may self-register
online at www.eauth.egov.usda.gov.
Scroll down and click on the button that says “Sign Up for a
Level 1 Account.” Complete the brief customer profile.
STEP 2. You will receive a confirmation email, and you must
respond to it within 7 days to activate your account.
LEVEL 2 ACCOUNT
STEP1. To obtain a Level 2 Account, you must complete an 18
question customer profile and prove your identity by presenting
state or federal photo ID at a local USDA Service Center. Go to
www.eauth.egov.usda.gov, scroll down and click on “Sign Up for a
Level 2 Account.” Complete your customer profile, which includes
designating your user ID and password created by you, contact
information and email information. The data you enter in your
customer profile must match the data on the document you use as
identification at your local USDA Service Center. Example: Your
first and last names and address must match the
government-issued photo ID you plan to use to prove your
identity. Identify proof can only be verified by one of the
following documents: Current State Driver’s License, State Photo
ID, US Military ID, or United States Passport.
STEP 2. After completing your customer profile and submitting it
online, you will receive a
confirmation email, and you must respond to it within 7 days to
activate your account.
STEP 3. Then you must complete the “Identify Proofing” process
by visiting a local USDA Service Center. You will be required to
present the eligible photo ID to an USDA employee who will
verify your identity and enter the expiration date of the ID
STEP 4. The USDA employee then will update your customer profile
to a Level 2 Account. You will have access to USDA online
applications and forms within one hour of your account being
You now have access to complete and submit documents and forms
electronically. USDA continues to update and make more forms and
programs available electronically.
Breaking New Ground
Agricultural producers are reminded to consult with FSA and NRCS
before breaking out new ground for production purposes as doing
so without prior authorization may put a producer’s federal farm
program benefits in jeopardy. This is especially true for land
that must meet Highly Erodible Land (HEL) and Wetland
Conservation (WC) provisions.
Producers with HEL determined soils are required to apply
tillage, crop residue and rotational requirements as specified
in their conservation plan.
Producers should notify FSA as a first point of contact prior to
conducting land clearing or drainage type projects to ensure the
proposed actions meet compliance criteria such as clearing any
trees to create new cropland, then these areas will need to be
reviewed to ensure such work will not risk your eligibility for
Landowners and operators complete the form AD-1026 - Highly
Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC)
Certification to identify the proposed action and allow FSA to
determine whether a referral to Natural Resources Conservation
Service (NRCS) for further review is necessary.
ARC, PLC and CTAP Acreage Maintenance
Producers enrolled in Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price
Loss Coverage (PLC) must protect all cropland and noncropland
acres on the farm from wind and water erosion and noxious weeds.
Producers who sign ARC county or individual contracts and PLC
contracts agree to effectively control noxious weeds on the farm
according to sound agricultural practices. If a producer fails
to take necessary actions to correct a maintenance problem on a
farm that is enrolled in ARC or PLC, the County Committee may
elect to terminate the contract for the program year.
When changes in farm ownership or operation take place, a farm
reconstitution is necessary. The reconstitution — or recon — is
the process of combining or dividing farms or tracts of land
based on the farming operation.
To be effective for the current Fiscal Year (FY), farm
combinations and farm divisions must be requested by August 1 of
the FY for farms subject to the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC)
and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program. A reconstitution is
considered to be requested when all:
- of the required signatures are on FSA-155
other applicable documentation, such as proof of ownership,
- Total Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and non-ARC/PLC
farms may be reconstituted at any time.
The following are the different methods used when doing a farm
Estate Method — the division of bases, allotments and
quotas for a parent farm among heirs in settling an estate
Designation of Landowner Method — may be used when (1)
part of a farm is sold or ownership is transferred; (2) an
entire farm is sold to two or more persons; (3) farm ownership
is transferred to two or more persons; (4) part of a tract is
sold or ownership is transferred; (5) a tract is sold to two or
more persons; or (6) tract ownership is transferred to two or
more persons. In order to use this method the land sold must
have been owned for at least three years, or a waiver granted,
and the buyer and seller must sign a Memorandum of Understanding
DCP Cropland Method — the division of bases in the same
proportion that the DCP cropland for each resulting tract
relates to the DCP cropland on the parent tract
Default Method — the division of bases for a parent farm
with each tract maintaining the bases attributed to the tract
level when the reconstitution is initiated in the system.
Organic Producers and Handlers May Apply for Certification
Cost Share Reimbursements; Expanded Eligibility for Transition
and State Certification Cost
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that
starting March 20, 2017, organic producers and handlers will be
able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices
to apply for federal reimbursement to assist with the cost of
receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification.
USDA reimburses organic producers up to 75 percent of the cost
of organic certification, but only about half of the nation’s
organic operations currently participate in the program.
Starting March 20, USDA will provide a uniform, streamlined
process for organic producers and handlers to apply for organic
cost share assistance either by mail or in person.
USDA is making changes to increase participation in the National
Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the
Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost
Share Program, and at the same time provide more opportunities
for organic producers to access other USDA programs, such as
disaster protection and loans for farms, facilities and
marketing. Producers can also access information on nonfederal
agricultural resources, and get referrals to local experts,
including organic agriculture, through USDA’s Bridges to
Opportunity service at the local FSA office.
Historically, many state departments of agriculture have
obtained grants to disburse reimbursements to those producers
and handlers qualifying for cost share assistance. FSA will
continue to partner with states to administer the programs. For
states that want to continue to directly administer the
programs, applications will be due Feb. 17, 2017.
Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers
who have paid organic or transitional certification fees to a
USDA-accredited certifying agent. Application fees, inspection
costs, fees related to equivalency agreement/ arrangement
requirements, travel/per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales
assessments and postage are all eligible for a cost share
reimbursement from USDA.
Once certified, producers and handlers are eligible to receive
reimbursement for up to 75 percent of certification costs each
year up to a maximum of $750 per certification scope—crops,
livestock, wild crops and handling. Today’s announcement also
adds transitional certification and state organic program fees
as additional scopes.
To learn more about organic certification cost share, please
visit www.fsa.usda.gov/organic or contact a local FSA office by
Cover Crop Guidelines
Recently the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS) and Risk Management Agency (RMA)
worked together to develop consistent, simple and a flexible
policy for cover crop practices.
The termination and reporting guidelines were updated for cover
The cover crop termination guidelines provide the timeline for
terminating cover crops, are based on zones and apply to
non-irrigated cropland. To view the zones and additional
nrcs/main/national/landuse/crops/ and click “Cover
Crop Termination Guidelines.”
The intended use of cover only will be used to report cover
crops. This includes crops
that were terminated by tillage and reported with an intended
use code of green manure. An FSA policy change will allow cover
crops to be hayed and grazed. Program eligibility for the cover
crop that is being hayed or grazed will be determined by each
[to top of second column]
If the crop reported as cover only is harvested for any use
other than forage or grazing and is not terminated properly,
then that crop will no longer be considered a cover crop.
Crops reported with an intended use of cover only will not count
toward the total cropland on the farm. In these situations a
subsequent crop will be reported to account for all cropland on
Cover crops include grasses, legumes, and forbs, for seasonal
cover and other conservation purposes. Cover crops are primarily
used for erosion control, soil health Improvement, and water
quality improvement. The cover crop may be terminated by natural
causes, such as frost, or intentionally terminated through
chemical application, crimping, rolling, tillage or cutting. A
cover crop managed and terminated according to NRCS Cover Crop
Termination Guidelines is not considered a crop for crop
Cover crops can be planted: with no subsequent crop planted,
before a subsequent crop, after prevented planting acreage,
after a planted crop, or into a standing crop.
Reporting Organic Crops
Producers who want to use the Noninsured Crop Disaster
Assistance Program (NAP) organic price and selected the
"organic" option on their NAP application must report their
crops as organic.
When certifying organic acres, the buffer zone acreage must be
included in the organic acreage.
Producers must also provide a current organic plan, organic
certificate or documentation from a certifying agent indicating
an organic plan is in effect. Documentation must include:
- name of certified individuals
- telephone number
- effective date of certification
- certificate number
- list of commodities certified
- name and address of certifying agent
- a map showing the specific location of each field of
certified organic, including the buffer zone acreage
Certification exemptions are available for producers whose
annual gross agricultural income from organic sales totals
$5,000 or less. Although exempt growers are not required to
provide a written certificate, they are still required to
provide a map showing the specific location of each field of
certified organic, transitional and buffer zone acreage.
For questions about reporting organic crops, contact your local
FSA office. To find your local office, visit
Marketing Assistance Loans Available for 2016 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 2016 crop
wheat, feed grains, soybeans and other oilseeds, pulse crops,
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
Illinois FSA county offices are now accepting requests for 2016
crop commodity and honey MALs and LDPs for eligible commodities
after harvest. As 2016 crop harvest wraps up, Illinois FSA
county offices are accepting requests for 2016 fall harvested
crops; corn, grain sorghum and soybeans.
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.
Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP)
The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) provides assistance to
eligible producers for livestock death losses in excess of
normal mortality due to an extreme or abnormal adverse weather
event and/or attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by
the federal government or protected by federal law. LIP
compensates livestock owners and contract growers for livestock
death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse
weather, including losses due to hurricanes, floods, blizzards,
wildfires, extreme heat or extreme cold.
For 2016, eligible losses must occur on or after January 1,
2016, and before December 31, 2016. A notice of loss must be
filed with FSA within 30 days of when the loss of livestock is
apparent. Participants must provide the following supporting
documentation to their local FSA office no later than 30
calendar days after the end of the calendar year (January 30,
2017) for which benefits are requested:
- Proof of death documentation
- Copy of growers contracts
- Proof of normal mortality documentation
USDA Offers New Loans for Portable Farm Storage and Handling
Portable Equipment Can Help Producers, including Small-Scale and
Local Farmers, Get Products to Market Quickly
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide a new financing
option to help farmers purchase portable storage and handling
equipment through the Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program.
The loans, which now include a smaller microloan option with
lower down payments, are designed to help producers, including
new, small and mid-sized producers, grow their businesses and
markets. The FSFL program allows producers of eligible
commodities to obtain low-interest financing to build or upgrade
farm storage and handling facilities.
The program also offers a new “microloan” option, which allows
applicants seeking less than $50,000 to qualify for a reduced
down payment of five percent and no requirement to provide three
years of production history, with CCC providing a loan for the
remaining 95 percent of the net cost of the eligible FSFL
equipment. Farms and ranches of all sizes are eligible. The
microloan option is expected to be of particular benefit to
smaller farms and ranches, and specialty crop producers who may
not have access to commercial storage or on-farm storage after
harvest. These producers can invest in equipment like conveyers,
scales or refrigeration units and trucks that can store
commodities before delivering them to markets. FSFL microloans
can also be used to finance wash and pack equipment used
post-harvest, before a commodity is placed in cold storage.
Producers do not need to demonstrate the lack of commercial
credit availability to apply for FSFL’s.
Larger farming and ranching operations, that may not be able to
participate in the new “microloan” option, may apply for the
traditional, larger FSFL’s with the maximum principal amount for
each loan through FSFL of $500,000.00. Participants are required
to provide a down payment of 15 percent, with CCC providing a
loan for the remaining 85 percent of the net cost of the
eligible storage facility and permanent drying and handling
equipment. Additional security is required for poured-cement
open-bunker silos, renewable biomass facilities, cold storage
facilities, hay barns and for all loans exceeding $100,000.00.
FSFL loan terms of 3, 5, 7, 10 or 12 years are available
depending on the amount of the loan. Interest rates for each
term rate may be different and are based on the rate which CCC
borrows from the Treasury Department.
Earlier this year, FSA significantly expanded the list of
commodities eligible for FSFL. Eligible commodities now include
aquaculture; floriculture; fruits (including nuts) and
vegetables; corn, grain sorghum, rice, oilseeds, oats, wheat,
triticale, spelt, buckwheat, lentils, chickpeas, dry peas sugar,
barley, rye, hay, honey, hops, maple sap, unprocessed meat and
poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, butter, yogurt and renewable
Applications for FSFL must be submitted to the FSA county office
that maintains the farm's records. The FSFL application must be
approved before: purchasing the FSFL equipment, beginning any
excavation or site preparation, accepting delivery of FSFL
equipment, beginning installation or construction.
To learn more about Farm Storage Facility Loans, visit
www.fsa.usda.gov/pricesupport or contact a local FSA county
office. To find your local FSA county office, visit
Maintaining the Quality of Loaned 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.
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 and a violation of the terms and conditions of the
Note and Security Agreement. 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 questions
concerning the movement of grain under loan, please contact your
local county FSA office.
Illinois Farm Service Agency
3500 Wabash Ave.
Springfield, IL 62711
Phone: 217-241-6600 ext.2
Acting State Executive Director:
Acting State Committee:
To find contact information for your local office go to