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Critical deadline for Farm Bill sign-up is Friday, Feb. 27

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Critical deadline for Farm Bill sign-up is Friday, Feb. 27

For all Jackson County farmland owners Critical deadline for Farm Bill sign-up is Friday, Feb. 27 Phone calls okay, but not after Friday.

 Only 35 percent of farmland owners in Jackson County have so far met a critical USDA/FSA deadline to make decisions regarding yield history updates, crop acreage reallocations and safety net programs, USDA officials said in Marianna last week. “The deadline is Friday at 5 p.m.,” USDA’s Rick Dantzler told a gathering of farmers and ranchers. “All farm landowners, not producers, must decide whether to use the one-time option to update your farm yield history or to reallocate your crop base acres.”

Dantzler says that failure to notify the USDA’’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) office of a decision will result in the USDA making the decision for you. That means your farm would “retain its current countercyclical yield and the base acres used for ARC-PLC programs. He stressed that the decision must be made by the farmland owner, not just the grower or farm renter.

Don’t feel bad because you are up against the deadline, Dantzler explained. “Because the Farm Bill was not passed until February 2014,” he said, “the tremendous changes made necessary in the law have resulted in extreme stress by FSA staff members at the county level. They have been working diligently to educate local farmers on the best programs for them and they now are in the process of getting farmers to sign up for the deadline Friday.” With about 2,000 farmers to serve, the Jackson County FSA is the largest in Florida, he added.

If landowners cannot complete the signup process by Friday, they can make an appointment to complete it at a later date, but that arrangement must be made by Friday afternoon. The telephone number for USDA in Marianna is 850-526-2610. It’s located at the Agriculture Center on Penn Avenue.

Another important deadline is coming up on March 31. That’s the last day for a producer to make a onetime election of participation in ARC (Agriculture Risk Coverage) or PLC (Price Loss Coverage) programs. If that deadline is missed, the farm is not eligible for either program for the 2014 crop year.

These crucial deadlines are regarding the new safety net programs established in the 2014 Farm Bill, known as ARC and PLC. The final day to update yield history or reallocate base acres is Friday and the final day for farm owners and producers to choose coverage is March 31. According to FSA, the programs provide financial protection against unexpected changes in the marketplace, so “now is the time to have those final conversations, to ask any remaining questions and to visit the Farm Service Agency to make these decisions.”

“For the first time in many years,” FSA’s Brad Pfaff said, “farms have the opportunity to update yields or reallocate base, but if no changes are made by Feb. 27, the farm’s current yield and base will be used. And if no program election occurs by March 31, then there will be no 2014 payments for the farm and the farm will default to PLC coverage through the 2018 crop year.”

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