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It’s spring, and sign-up times are here!

This spring has been extremely challenging for farmers. After an early spring of significant rainfall amounts in late April, the rain has lifted (for now), warmer weather has arrived and planting season is underway.

With a later start than usual, farmers have been diligently working the ground and planting all day and into the night to quickly get their crops in the ground.

I know this time of year, especially now, is extremely busy for our producers. However, I would like to remind everyone that June 3 is fast approaching and is the closing date to enroll in the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program.

All producers may choose to enroll in either the Direct and Counter-Cyclical (DCP) Program or ACRE for the 2013 crop year. This means that producers who enrolled in ACRE for 2012 may elect to enroll in DCP in 2013, or vice versa. The deadline to enroll in DCP is Aug. 2.

If your farm was enrolled in the ACRE program for 2012, FSA-658 Record of Production and Yield form must be completed and returned to the County Office before July 15. Failure to do so may result in ineligibility.

More recent news in the office, USDA announces Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Sign-Up. Landowners and producers can now enroll in Continuous CRP with the General CRP Sign-up starting May 20 and continuing through June 14.

Environmentally-sensitive land devoted to certain conservation practices, including but not limited to, grass waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers and wetland restoration practices may be enrolled in CRP at any time under continuous sign-up.

Offers for continuous sign-up are automatically accepted provided the land and producer meet certain eligibility requirements. These offers are not subject to competitive bidding.

However, general CRP offers are subject to competitive bidding. Offers will be ranked according to the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). FSA collects data (primarily based on location, soils information and selected conservation practice) and determines the environmental indices for the land offered.

FSA ranks each eligible offer in comparison to all other offers and selects from that ranking. After the sign up ends, the Secretary of Agriculture will decide where to make the EBI cutoff.

Producers may consult with FSA and Natural Resource Conservation (NRCS) staff on how to maximize EBI points and increase the likelihood that their offer will be accepted.
To offer land for the continuous or general sign-up, producers should contact their local FSA office.

One last thing I would like to mention is the 2012 Census of Agriculture. America’s farmers and ranchers have the opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities by taking part in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Census is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches and those who operate them.

Please take the time and fill out the 2012 Census of Agriculture if you haven’t done so already. The May 31 deadline is almost here.

Justina M. Boggio is the county executive director at the Bureau County FSA Office.

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