Graff is a long time grain and livestock producer from central
Illinois. He is familiar with the agriculture industry and USDA
programs. He previously served as SED of the Illinois FSA under
a previous administration. Graff is a graduate of Illinois State
Under the direction of Secretary Sonny Perdue, the USDA will
always be facts-based and driven with a decision-making mindset
that is customer-focused. Secretary Perdue leads the USDA with
four guiding principles; to maximize the ability of American
agriculture to create jobs, sell foods and fiber, and feed and
clothe the world; to prioritize customer service for the
taxpayers; to ensure that our food supply is safe and secure;
and to maintain good stewardship of the natural resources that
provide us with our miraculous bounty. And understanding that we
live in a global economy where trade is of top importance,
Secretary Perdue has pledged to be an unapologetic advocate for
As SED, Graff will use his leadership experience to oversee FSA
programs in a customer-focused manner to ensure a safe, abundant
and nutritious food supply for customers.
SED Graff is looking forward to serving the Illinois producers
USDA Announces Enrollment Period for Safety Net Coverage in 2018
Beginning November 1, 2017, farmers and ranchers with base acres
in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage
(PLC) safety net program may enroll for the 2018 crop year. The
enrollment period will end on August 1, 2018.
Since shares and ownership of a farm can change year-to-year,
producers must enroll by signing a contract each program year.
The producers on a farm that are not enrolled for the 2018
enrollment period will not be eligible for financial assistance
from the ARC or PLC programs for the 2018 crop should crop
prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or
revenue benchmarks established by the program. Producers who
made their elections in previous years must still enroll during
the 2018 enrollment period.
The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill
and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a
substantial drop in prices or revenues for covered commodities.
Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small
chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils,
mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain
rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet
rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and
wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity. For more
details regarding these programs, go to www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.
For more information, producers are encouraged to visit their
local FSA office. To find a local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.
CRP Participants Must Maintain Approved Cover on Acreages
Enrolled in CRP and Farm Programs
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) participants are responsible
for ensuring adequate, approved vegetative and practice cover is
maintained to control erosion throughout the life of the
contract after the practice has been established. Participants
must also control undesirable vegetation, weeds (including
noxious weeds), insects and rodents that may pose a threat to
existing cover or adversely impact other landowners in the
All CRP maintenance activities, such as mowing, burning, disking
and spraying, must be conducted outside the primary nesting or
brood rearing season for wildlife, which for Illinois is April 1
through August 1. However, spot treatment of the acreage may be
allowed during the primary nesting or brood rearing season if,
left untreated, the weeds, insects or undesirable species would
adversely impact the approved cover. In this instance, spot
treatment is limited to the affected areas in the field and
requires County Committee approval prior to beginning the spot
treatment. The County Committee will consult with NRCS to
determine if such activities are needed to maintain the approved
Annual mowing of CRP for generic weed control, or for cosmetic
purposes, is prohibited at all times.
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
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
To learn more about the FSA Farm Storage Facility Loan, visit
www. fsa.usda.gov/pricesupport or
contact your local FSA county office. To find your local FSA
county office, visit
Preauthorized Debit Available for Farm Loan Borrowers
USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has implemented pre-authorized
debit (PAD) for Farm Loan Program (FLP) borrowers. PAD is a
voluntary and alternative method for making weekly, bi-weekly,
monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual payments on loans.
PAD payments are pre authorized transactions that allow the
National Financial and Accounting Operations Center (NFAOC) to
electronically collect loan payments from a customer’s account
at a financial institution.
PAD may be useful for borrowers who use nonfarm income from
regular wages or salary to make payments on loans or adjustment
offers or for payments from seasonal produce stands. PAD can
only be established for future payments.
To request PAD, customers, along with their financial
institution, must fill out form RD 3550-28. This form has no
expiration date, but a separate form RD 3550-28 must be
completed for each loan to which payments are to be applied. A
fillable form can be accessed on the USDA Rural Development (RD)
website at http://www.rd.usda.gov/
publications/regulations-guidelines. Click forms and
search for “Form 3550-28.”
If you have a “filter” on the account at your financial
institution, you will need to provide the financial institution
with the following information: Origination ID: 1220040804,
Agency Name: USDA RD DCFO.
PAD is offered by FSA at no cost. Check with your financial
institution to discuss any potential cost. Preauthorized debit
has no expiration date, but you can cancel at any time by
submitting a written request to your local FSA office. If a
preauthorized debit agreement receives three payment rejections
within a three month period, the preauthorized debit agreement
will be cancelled by FSA. The payment amount and due date of
your loan is not affected by a cancellation of preauthorized
debit. You are responsible to ensure your full payment is made
by the due date.
For more information about PAD, contact your local FSA office.
To find a local FSA office, visit
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
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.
Permitted Revision of Intended use After Acreage Reporting Date
New operators or owners who pick up a farm after the acreage
reporting deadline has passed and the crop has already been
reported on the farm, have 30 days to change the intended use.
Producer share interest changes alone will not allow for
revisions to intended use after the acreage reporting date. The
revision must be performed by either the acreage reporting date
or within 30 calendar days from the date when the new operator
or owner acquired the lease on land, control of the land or
ownership and new producer crop share interest in the previously
reported crop acreage. Under this policy, appropriate
documentation must be provided to the County Committee’s
satisfaction to determine that a legitimate operator or
ownership and producer crop share interest change occurred to
permit the revision.
In order to maintain program eligibility and benefits, producers
must timely file acreage reports. Failure to file an acreage
report by the crop acreage reporting deadline may result in
ineligibility for future program benefits. FSA will not accept
acreage reports provided more than a year after the acreage
Definitions of Terms
FSA defines “idle” as cropland or a balance of cropland within a
Common Land Unit (CLU) (field/subfield) which is not planted or
considered not planted and does not meet the definition of
fallow or skip row. For example, the balance of a field that
could not be planted due to moisture or a turn area that is not
planted would be reported as idle.
Fallow is considered unplanted cropland acres which are part of
a crop/fallow rotation where cultivated land that is normally
planted is purposely kept out of production during a regular
growing season. Resting the ground in this manner allows it to
recover its fertility and conserve moisture for crop production
in the next growing season.
Unauthorized Disposition of Grain
If loan 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 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.
Cover Crop Guidelines
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
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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.
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 guidelines
portal/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 specific program.
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 the
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 insurance
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.
Actively Engaged Provisions for Non-Family Joint Operations or
Many Farm Service Agency programs require all program participants,
either individuals or legal entities, to be “actively engaged in
farming”. This means participants provide a significant
contribution to the farming operation, whether it is capital, land,
equipment, active personal labor and/or management. For entities,
each partner, stockholder or member with an ownership interest, must
contribute active personal labor and/or management to the operation
on a regular basis.
The 2014 Farm Bill established additional payment eligibility
provisions relating to the farm management component of meeting
“actively engaged in farming”. These provisions apply to joint
operations comprised of non-family members or partners, stockholders
or persons with an ownership in the farming operation. Effective
for 2016 and subsequent crop years, non-family joint operations are
afforded to one member that may use a significant contribution of
active personal management exclusively to meet the requirements to
be determined “actively engaged in farming”. The person or member
will be defined as the Farm Manager for the purposes of
administering these new management provisions.
In some instances, additional persons or members of a non-family
member joint operation who meet the definition of Farm Manager may
also be allowed to use such a contribution of active personal
management to meet the eligibility requirements. However, under no
circumstances may the number of Farm Managers in a non-family joint
operation exceed a total of three in any given crop and program
Change in Farming Operation
If you have bought or sold land, or if you have picked up or dropped
rented land from your operation, make sure you report the changes to
the county office as soon as possible. You need to provide a copy
of your deed or recorded land contract for purchased property.
Failure to maintain accurate records with FSA on all land you have
an interest in can lead to possible program ineligibility and
penalties. Making the record changes now will save you time in the
spring. Update signature authorization when changes in the
operation occur. Producers are reminded to contact their county
office if there is a change in operations on a farm so that records
can be kept current and accurate.
The Farm Service Agency makes loans to youth to establish and
operate agricultural income-producing projects in connection with
4-H clubs, FFA and other agricultural groups. Projects must be
planned and operated with the help of the organization advisor,
produce sufficient income to repay the loan and provide the youth
with practical business and educational experience. The maximum
loan amount is $5000.
Youth Loan Eligibility Requirements:
Be a citizen of the United States (which includes Puerto Rico, the
Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the
Northern Mariana Islands) or a legal resident alien
Be 10 years to 20 years of age
Comply with FSA’s general eligibility requirements
Be unable to get a loan from other sources
Conduct a modest income-producing project in a supervised program of
work as outlined above
Demonstrate capability of planning, managing and operating the
project under guidance and assistance from a project advisor. The
project supervisor must recommend the youth loan applicant, along
with providing adequate supervision.
Stop by the county office for help preparing and processing the
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
effective date of certification
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 http://offices.usda.gov.
Dairy Producers Can Enroll for 2018 Coverage
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA)
today announced that starting Sept. 1, 2017, dairy producers can
enroll for 2018 coverage in the Margin Protection Program (MPP-Dairy).
Secretary Sonny Perdue has utilized additional flexibility this year
by providing dairy producers the option of opting out of the program
To opt out, a producer should not sign up during the annual
registration period. By opting out, a producer would not receive any
MPP-Dairy benefits if payments are triggered for 2018. Full details
will be included in a subsequent Federal Register Notice. The
decision would be for 2018 only and is not retroactive.
The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides
financial assistance to participating dairy producers when the
margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs –
falls below the coverage level selected by the producer.
MPP-Dairy gives participating dairy producers the flexibility to
select coverage levels best suited for their operation. Enrollment
ends on Dec. 15, 2017, for coverage in calendar year 2018.
Participating farmers will remain in the program through Dec. 31,
2018, and pay a minimum $100 administrative fee for 2018 coverage.
Producers have the option of selecting a different coverage level
from the previous coverage year during open enrollment.
Dairy operations enrolling in the program must meet conservation
compliance provisions and cannot participate in the Livestock Gross
Margin Dairy Insurance Program. Producers can mail the appropriate
form to the producer’s administrative county FSA office, along with
applicable fees, without necessitating a trip to the local FSA
office. If electing higher coverage for 2018, dairy producers can
either pay the premium in full at the time of enrollment or pay 100
percent of the premium by Sept. 1, 2018. Premium fees may be paid
directly to FSA or producers can work with their milk handlers to
remit premiums on their behalf.
USDA has a web tool to help producers determine the level of
coverage under the MPP-Dairy that will provide them with the
strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The online
resource, available at www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool,
allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation
data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based
on price projections. Producers can also review historical data or
estimate future coverage based on data projections. The secure site
can be accessed via computer, Smartphone, tablet or any other
platform, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For more information, visit FSA online at www.fsa.usda.gov/dairy or
stop by a local FSA office to learn more about the MPP-Dairy.
November Interest Rates
and Important Dates to Remember
Illinois Farm Service Agency
3500 Wabash Ave.
Springfield, IL 62711
State Executive Director:
William J. Graff
Acting State Committee:
Jill Appell - Chairperson
Brenda Hill - Member
Joyce Matthews - Member
Gordon Stine - Member
Acting Division Chiefs:
To find contact information for your local office go to
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file
a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant
Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400
Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866)
632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or
Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).