USDA Offers Help to Fire-Affected Farmers and Ranchers

United States Department of AgricultureWASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds farmers and ranchers affected by the recent wildfires in Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington State that USDA has programs to assist with their recovery efforts.

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) can assist farmers and ranchers who lost livestock, grazing land, fences or eligible trees, bushes and vines as a result of a natural disaster. FSA administers a suite of safety-net programs to help producers recover from eligible losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, and the Tree Assistance Program.

In addition, the FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures in periods of severe drought. Producers located in counties that received a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Compensation is also available to producers who purchased coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting.

“Wildfires have caused devastating losses for many farmers and ranchers,” said FSA Administrator Val Dolcini. “Over the past several years, wildfires have increased in severity, intensity and cost as the fire season has grown longer, and drought and increased temperatures contribute to dangerous conditions. Natural disasters such as wildfires are unavoidable, but USDA has strong safety-net programs to help producers get back on their feet.”

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can assist producers with damaged grazing land as well as farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who find themselves in emergency situations caused by natural disasters. The NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program provides financial assistance to producers who agree to defer grazing on damaged land for two years. In the event that presidentially declared natural disasters, such as wildfires, lead to imminent threats to life and property, NRCS can assist local government sponsors with the cost of implementing conservation practices to address natural resource concerns and hazards through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.

“After natural disasters such as wildfires, it is critical that farmers, ranchers and forestland owners have financial and technical resources available to protect their natural resources and operations,” said NRCS Chief Jason Weller. “Conservation practices protect the land and aid recovery, but can build the natural resource base and may help mitigate loss in future events.”

Farmers and ranchers with coverage through the federal crop insurance program administered by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) should contact their crop insurance agent to discuss losses due to fire or other natural causes of loss. Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator.

When wildfires destroy or severely damage residential property, Rural Development (RD) can assist with providing priority hardship application processing for single family housing. Under a disaster designation, RD can issue a priority letter for next available multi-family housing units. RD also provides low-interest loans to community facilities, water environmental programs, businesses and cooperatives and to rural utilities.

For the first time in its 110-year history, the Forest Service, part of USDA, is spending more than 50 percent of its budget to suppress the nation’s wildfires.

Today, fire seasons are 78 days longer than in the 1970s. Since 2000, at least 10 states have had their largest fires on record. This year, there have been more than 46,000 fires. Increasing development near forest boundaries also drives up costs, as more than 46 million homes and more than 70,000 communities are at risk from wildfire in the United States.

Visit https://go.usa.gov/3eDeF to learn more about USDA disaster preparedness and response. For more information on USDA disaster assistance programs, please contact your local USDA Service Center. To find your local USDA Service Center go to http://offices.usda.gov.

–USDA Press Release

Montana’s Next Generation Conference January 30 and 31 in Shelby

Mark your calendar for Friday and Saturday, January 30 and 31, 2015, for Montana’s Next Generation Conference in Shelby, Montana! Hosted by the Glacier and Toole County Farm Service Agency, local MSU Extension, Marias River Livestock Association and the Front Range Counties Farm Bureau, this comprehensive conference including succession planning and production workshops is one you won’t want to miss.

Events kick off Friday morning at 9 a.m. at the Shelby Civic Center with Kevin Spafford of Legacy by Design, LLC. Spafford will lead participants through the succession planning process with hands-on activities for all generations as they learn how to make a successful transition of the farming or ranching operation. The morning session will be a great refresher for those who attended last year or were unable to make it. Following lunch, Spafford will lead an Advanced Succession Planning session to build upon the morning session’s foundation or for those who attended last year.

Friday evening will include a no-host social and trade show, a roast beef dinner and a keynote address from Sandra Hare, “Understanding the Personalities of the Generations.” Hare, a talented human resources executive, has provided expertise to companies such as Wheat Montana and Kalispell Regional Healthcare and comes with a wealth of experience. The evening will conclude with entertainment by the talented Halladay Quist. Halladay, the daughter of musician Rob Quist and a rising performer herself, performs Bluegrass Country, electric folk, and country rock music.

Saturday’s events feature an outstanding lineup of industry speakers and professionals offering a total of 36 workshops for attendees to select from. Each hour will have workshops for crop and livestock producers with a portion of workshops aimed each towards beginning producers and for those who have been involved in agriculture for many years and want to learn about what’s new in the industry.

Crop topics will include crop insurance, Crop Scouting 101 and 201, Strategic fertilizer and chemical programs, Precision Ag, 2014 Farm Bill, CSP and EQUIP for farmers, Grain Marketing 101, Grain Marketing 2015 outlook, and seed updates.

Livestock related topics will feature presentations on Beef Cattle Nutrition 101 and 201, Beginning and Advanced livestock marketing, Beginning and Advanced animal health topics, Genetics and bull selection, forage management, reproductive success in the beef cowherd, CSP and EQUIP for cattlemen, and grazing management.

Financial and management related topics will focus on financial recordkeeping, tax code updates, life insurance, workers compensation, lease options, farm insurance policies, payroll taxes and employee accounting, and entity structure and tax implications.

Saturday’s workshops will fulfill FSA’s Production and Financial Management training requirements. In addition, pesticide applicator credits will be available for those who attend the crop workshops covering pesticides.

The Saturday workshop portion will conclude with both a livestock and crop panel discussion. This feature was a highlight of the 2014 conference as it allows attendees to learn from the successes and challenges of local producers in their daily operations and succession planning. The conference will return to the Shelby Civic Center Saturday evening for a beef brisket dinner by Dr. Dick Kinyon, along with legislative updates, the trade show, and entertainment.

Registration forms are available online or by calling the Glacier County Extension office at 406-873-2239. Conference updates will be available via the Facebook page, Montana’s Next Generation Conference. Cost is $20/individual/day, or $30/couple/day, and registrations are due by January 23. Participants are encouraged to bring the entire family as daycare is available and additional family members will be eligible for the couple discount.

Discounted motel rates of $75/night are available at the Best Western Shelby Inn & Suites (406-424-4560) or the Comfort Inn (406-434-2212) at $70/night for a single room or $75/night for a double room if booked in advance of the conference.

“I’m really excited for our second year of this event,” Maggie Nutter, President of Marias River Livestock Association stated. Nutter continued, “Our first year was such a success and we listened to feedback and have added more breakout sessions that will be great for the young ranchers and farmers or the experienced guy who has been at it a while. Our team is really trying to make the Next Generation Conference fit the needs of our large diverse Montana community. I just think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

If you have any questions, please contact Lacy Roberts at 406-873-5618 or Kari Lewis at 406-873-2239. Don’t miss this great opportunity to plan for the future and learn from some outstanding professionals!

MSU Extension and USDA offer educational Farm Bill meetings

United States Department of AgricultureBOZEMAN – Montana State University Extension, in partnership with U.S. Department of Agriculture, will be visiting 28 Montana communities this fall to conduct a series of informational meetings about important new programs authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014.

The meetings will focus on the price-loss coverage and agricultural-risk coverage that will be administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency and the supplemental-coverage option administered by USDA’s Risk Management Agency through federal crop insurance providers. MSU Extension will explain the new online Farm Bill Decision Tool that will be available this fall to assist producers in understanding their options.

The schedule of meetings runs Oct. 15 through Nov. 12:

  • Oct. 15. Belgrade, 8 a.m. to noon, Holiday Inn Express, 309 West Madison Ave.
  • Oct. 16. Helena, 2-6 p.m., MSU Extension Office, Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds, 98 W. Custer Ave.
  • Oct. 17. Ronan, 8 a.m. to noon, Ronan Community Center, 300 3rd Ave. NW; Missoula, 2-6 p.m., Guesthouse Inn and Suites, 3803 Brooks Street.
  • Oct. 20. Miles City, 2-6 p.m., Miles City Community College, 2715 Dickinson St.
  • Oct. 21. Sidney, 8 a.m. to noon, MSU Extension Office, 1499 N. Central Ave.; Plentywood, 2-6 p.m., Sheridan County Courthouse, 100 W. Laurel Ave.
  • Oct. 22. Glasgow, 8 a.m. to noon, Cottonwood Inn, 45 First Ave. NE. Wolf Point, 2-6 p.m., Dumont Building, Fort Peck Community College, 301 Benton St.
  • Oct. 23. Circle, 8 a.m. to noon, Community Building, McCone County Fairgrounds, one-half mile southwest of Circle on Highway 200; Glendive, 2-6 p.m., Dawson County Courthouse, 207 W. Bell St.
  • Oct. 24. Baker, 8 a.m. to noon, Exhibit Hall, Fallon County Fairground, 3440 Highway 7.
  • Oct. 27. Choteau, 2-6 p.m., Stage Stop Inn, 1005 Main Ave. N.
  • Oct. 28. Browning, 9 a.m. to noon, Roland Kennerly Building, Blackfeet Tribal Office. Shelby, 2-6 p.m., Coyote Club Eagles Lodge, 137 Main St.
  • Oct. 29. Conrad, 8 a.m. to noon, Conrad High School Auditorium, 308 South Illinois; Great Falls, 2-6 p.m., Montana Expo Park, State Fairgrounds, Trades and Industries Building, 400 3rd St. NW.
  • Oct. 30. Fort Benton, 8 a.m. to noon, Ag Center, 1205 20th Street. Havre, 2-6 p.m., MSU-Northern Student Union Ballroom, 300 West 11th Street.
  • Oct. 31. Malta, 8 a.m. to noon, Great Northern Hotel, 2 S first Street E.
  • Nov. 3. Lame Deer, 2-6 p.m., Chief Dull Knife College, Room 205, 1 College Drive.
  • Nov. 4. Crow Agency, 9 a.m. to noon, Little Big Horn College Cultural Center, 8645 South Weaver Drive; Billings, 2-6 p.m., Big Horn Resort and Convention Center, 1801 Majestic Ln.
  • Nov. 5. Harlowton, 8 a.m. to noon, Kiwanis Youth Center, 204 Third St. NE. Hobson, 2-6 p.m., Bos Terra Feedlot Auditorium, 342 Sale Barn Drive.
  • Nov. 6. Box Elder, 9 a.m. to noon, Jon Morsette Vocational Technical Center, 8294 Upper Box Elder Rd.; Fort Belknap Agency, 2-6 p.m., Aaniiih Nakoda College, Returning Buffalo Building, 269 Blackfeet Avenue.
  • Nov. 10. Informational webinar, contact MSU Extension for details.
  • Nov. 12. Whitehall, 2-6 p.m., Whitehall Community Center, 11 N. Division Street.

For more information, including a printable schedule, visit MSU Extension’s Farm Bill website at http://www.montana.edu/farmbill and Montana FSA’s website at www.fsa.usda.gov/mt. Visit RMA’s Farm Bill website at http://www.rma.usda.gov/news/currentissues/farmbill/.

United States Department of Agriculture

USDA Reminds Farmers of 2014 Farm Bill Conservation Compliance Changes

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today reminded producers that changes mandated through the 2014 Farm Bill require them to have on file a Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification (AD-1026). The Farm Bill relinked highly erodible land conservation and wetland conservation compliance with eligibility for premium support paid under the federal crop insurance program.

“It’s important that farmers and ranchers taking the right steps to conserve valuable farm and natural resources have completed AD-1026 forms on file at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office,” said Vilsack. “This will ensure they remain eligible for crop insurance support.”

For farmers to be eligible for premium support on their federal crop insurance, a completed and signed AD-1026 form must be on file with the FSA. Since many FSA and Natural Resource Conservation (NRCS) programs have this requirement, most producers should already have an AD-1026 on file. If producers have not filed, they must do so by June 1, 2015.

When a farmer completes the AD-1026, FSA and NRCS staff will outline any additional actions that may be required for compliance with the provisions. The Risk Management Agency, through the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC), manages the federal crop insurance program that provides the modern farm safety net for American farmers and ranchers.

Since enactment of the 1985 Farm Bill, eligibility for most commodity, disaster, and conservation programs has been linked to compliance with the highly erodible land conservation and wetland conservation provisions. The 2014 Farm Bill continues the requirement that producers adhere to conservation compliance guidelines to be eligible for most programs administered by FSA and NRCS. This includes the new price and revenue protection programs, the Conservation Reserve Program, the Livestock Disaster Assistance programs and Marketing Assistance Loans implemented by FSA. It also includes the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program, and other conservation programs.

FSA recently released a revised form AD-1026, which is available at USDA Service Centers and online at: www.fsa.usda.gov . USDA will publish a rule later this year that will provide details outlining the connection of conservation compliance with crop insurance premium support.  Producers can also contact their local USDA Service Center for information.  A listing of service center locations is available at www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/contact/local/.

United States Department of Agriculture

2014 Farm Bill provides Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP)

United States Department of AgricultureThe Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) makes the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) a permanent program and provides retroactive authority to cover eligible losses back to October 1, 2011.

LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses for covered livestock on land that is native or improved pastureland with permanent vegetative cover or is planted specifically for grazing. The grazing losses must be due to a qualifying drought condition during the normal grazing period for the county.

LFP also provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses on rangeland managed by a Federal agency if the eligible livestock producer is prohibited by the Federal agency from grazing the normal permitted livestock on the managed rangeland due to a qualifying fire. The grazing losses must have occurred on or after October 1, 2011. LFP is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Eligibility

Livestock producers that own or lease grazing land or pastureland physically located in a county rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as severe drought (D2), extreme drought (D3), or exceptional drought (D4) may be eligible for LFP.

  • Producers are eligible to receive assistance in an amount equal to one monthly payment if any area of the county had a severe drought rating for at least eight consecutive weeks during the normal grazing period.
  • Producers are eligible to receive assistance in an amount equal to three monthly payments if any area of the county had an extreme drought rating at any time during the normal grazing period.
  • Producers are eligible to receive assistance in an amount equal to four monthly payments if any area of the county had an extreme drought rating for at least four weeks during the normal grazing period or if any area of the county had an exceptional drought rating at any time during the grazing season.
  • Producers are eligible to receive assistance in an amount equal to five monthly payments if any area of the county had an exceptional drought rating for at least four weeks during the normal grazing period.

A map of eligible counties for LFP drought is available at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

Rates & Payments

Payment rates vary by species and year, and they also vary by cause of loss.

FSA will calculate LFP payments for an eligible livestock producer for grazing losses due to qualifying drought equal to 1, 3, 4 or 5 times the LFP monthly payment rate. Eligible livestock producers in qualifying counties will receive 60 percent of the monthly payment rate as calculated by the FSA.

Eligible livestock producers who sold or otherwise disposed of livestock because of drought conditions in one or both of the two previous production years immediately preceding the current production year will receive 80 percent of the monthly payment rate.

Eligible livestock producers who suffered losses because of a qualifying fire on Federally managed rangeland for which the producer is prohibited from grazing the normally permitted livestock will receive 50 percent of the monthly payment rate.

The following is a hypothetical payment calculation for an eligible rancher who owns and grazed 400 mature cows and 100 yearlings in a county with an exceptional drought rating for one week during each of the 2012 and 2013 summer grazing seasons.

Year Animals Type Rate % Payment Subtotal Months Total
2012 400 Cows $51.81 60% $12,434.40 4 $49,737.60
2012 100 Yearlings $38.86 60% $2,331.60 4 $9,326.40
2013 400 Cows $57.27 60% $13,744.80 4 $54,979.20
2013 100 Yearlings $42.96 60% $2,577.60 4 $10,310.40
Total $124,353.60

Producers are limited to $125,000 in payments per producer per year.  Also, producers are ineligible if their individual or entity’s average Adjusted Gross Income exceeds $900,000.

For complete LFP eligibility requirements, producers are encouraged to visit their county Farm Service Agency office. Additional risk management tools and programs are available through the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). Visit the RMA website (www.RMA.USDA.gov) to find many useful tools, including premium calculators, extensive program descriptions, and a variety of educational materials.

Federal crop insurance program policies are sold and serviced by private crop insurance companies.  Custom Ag Solutions works with RMA and other partner organizations to educate Montana producers about risk management and Federal crop insurance programs.  To receive information by mail, call CAS at 877-227-8094.  USDA, RMA, and CAS are equal opportunity providers.

United States Department of Agriculture

Tester to Montana ranchers: Today is first day to sign up for disaster assistance

Senator spreads the word about recently reauthorized livestock disaster initiatives in Farm Bill

(The following is a press release from Sen. Tester’s office) – Senator Jon Tester wants Montana ranchers to know that today is the first day to sign up for support under the recently reauthorized livestock disaster assistance initiatives in the 2014 Farm Bill.

The five-year Farm Bill passed earlier this year with Tester’s support.  It reauthorizes three livestock disaster assistance programs, including the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), that expired in 2011.  These programs support ranchers who suffered losses in recent years, including 2012’s nationwide drought.

The newly reauthorized programs are retroactive to October 1, 2011.  Montanans should contact their local FSA offices for more information about applying.

Tester, a dry-land farmer from Big Sandy, successfully got USDA to quickly implement the initiatives so ranchers in Montana and across the country could get the assistance they need.

“Today is the first day for Montana ranchers affected by recent disasters to apply for needed assistance,” Tester said.  “I encourage all ranchers to utilize all available resources so we can keep our state’s number one industry strong.”

Tester pushed the President for quick implementation of these provisions because it took more than a year for LIP and LFP to begin after the last Farm Bill became law in 2008.

The Farm Bill includes numerous other Tester priorities, including extending Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) through 2014, support for beginning farmers and ranchers and savings of $23 billion.

More information about the Livestock Indemnity Program is available HERE, about the Livestock Forage Disaster Program HERE and about the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised First Program HERE.

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United States Department of Agriculture

Montana FSA: Livestock Producers Affected by Severe Weather Urged to Keep Good Records

WASHINGTON DC — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia, repeated his appeal to livestock producers affected by natural disasters such as the drought in the West and the unexpected winter storm in the upper Midwest to keep thorough records. This includes livestock and feed losses, and any additional expenses that are a result of losses to purchased forage or feed stuff.

“The 2014 Farm Bill provides a strong farm safety net to help ranchers during these difficult times,” said Garcia. “We’ll provide producers with information on new program requirements, updates and signups as the information becomes available. In the meantime, I urge producers to keep thorough records. We know these disasters have caused serious economic hardships for our livestock producers. We’ll do all we can to assist in their recovery.”

In addition to western drought and the early-winter snowstorms, there are a variety of disasters from floods to storms to unexpected freezes. Each event causes economic consequences for farmers and ranchers throughout the United States. FSA recommends that owners and producers record all pertinent information of natural disaster consequences, including:

  • Documentation of the number and kind of livestock that have died, supplemented if possible by photographs or video records of ownership and losses;
  • Dates of death supported by birth recordings or purchase receipts;
  • Costs of transporting livestock to safer grounds or to move animals to new pastures;
  • Feed purchases if supplies or grazing pastures are destroyed;
  • Crop records, including seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records;
  • Pictures of on-farm storage facilities that were destroyed by wind or flood waters; and
  • Evidence of damaged farm land.

 

Visit www.fsa.usda.gov or an FSA county office to learn more about FSA programs and loans. For information about USDA’s Farm Bill implementation plan, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

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For more information on the 2014 Farm Bill, visit agriculture.house.gov.

 

United States Department of Agriculture

Farm Bill provides USDA resources to help Montana ranchers

United States Department of Agriculture(The following is a press release from Senator Walsh’s office, U.S. SENATE) – Senator John Walsh today announced that critical disaster relief resources to help Montana ranchers recover from the loss of livestock and increased feed cost are now available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The recently-passed Farm Bill provides permanent disaster coverage, retroactive to October 1, 2011.

“Now that the Farm Bill is law, the disaster relief programs Montana ranchers rely on to recover from devastating fires, storms, and drought are finally available,” said Walsh, a member of the Agriculture Committee. “I will do everything I can to make sure we put the Farm Bill to work for Montana, making sure ranchers know what resources are available and help them access the assistance so they can stay in business and keep Montana’s ag economy strong.”

Montana ranchers with eligible losses can sign up for disaster payments starting April 15th at their local county FSA office.

Sen. Walsh’s offices are available to Montanans to help them assess what assistance they are eligible for. The Washington, D.C. office can be reached at (202) 224-2651, and the Bozeman office, where Walsh’s agriculture caseworker will be housed, can be reached at (406) 586-6104.

More information on the USDA programs is available at: