Kristi Badger has an important message for Barton County farmers.
“The 2016 final crop acreage reporting deadline for all Kansas counties is July 15,” the county Farm Service Administration executive director said. “Reporting planted acreages is a requirement for FSA program participation.”
The July deadline for this “certification” of feed grain crops such as corn and milo has been around for many years. But, Badger said there is a renewed enforcement emphasis this year.
Many FSA programs require a total farm acreage certification. “This means even if you have one acre of summer fallow, then you must come to FSA to complete your acreage report,” she said.
Not only does the FSA require these numbers, but so do crop insurance providers, she said. “Producers can report crop acreages to FSA and the data will be transmitted automatically to your crop insurance agent.”
They are ready to take appointments, Badger said. “Call the office as soon as you complete your spring planting.”
The telephone number is 620-792-5329, extension 201.
A detailed process
This is one of three acreage reporting deadlines, said Scott Willbrant, program specialist with the Kansas FSA office in Manhattan. The others are: Nov. 15 for perennial forage crops such as grasses; and Dec. 15 fall planted small grains such as wheat.
With the exception of the small grain deadline, the reporting dates have been around for many years.
The goal is to have same deadlines as crop insurance. Although crop insurance is provided through private companies, the USDA’s Risk Management Agency sets guidelines and provisions.
Prior to the last three five-year federal farm bills (the most recent passed in 2014), farmers were limited on acreage so the July deadline carried more significance, Willbrant said. But, now, with “freedom to farm,” there are no limits on production.
“There’s not as much need for deadline,” he said. However, the FSA is trying to work more in conjunction with insurance providers.
The certification provides valuable information. By reporting the number of acres planted, insurers and the feds can establish a producer’s liability and risk.
In addition,this record gives the FSA an idea what crops are planted and in what amounts. This data is crucial in determining the extent of natural disasters and in making crop production projections.
“It’s stressful for producers to get into our office to report,” Willbrant said. It is also challenging for FSA employees.
There is no penalty for not reporting, he said. But, farmers who fail to certify his acres are not eligible for any federal farm programs.
“So, it is kind of an undefined penalty,” Willbrant said. These farmers are also at risk by not having that acreage documented.
“Kansas has very good participation in farm programs,” he said. Of the 118,000-plus farms in the Sunflower State, 93 percent take part.
A producer can late file, Willbrant said. There is a measurement service fee assessed, but some feel it is worth the cost not to mess with the hassle of going into an office.
Of course, they are not covered under by any of the programs until they have their crops on file, he said.
For those who opt out, there may be no negative consequences. “But, you never know,” he said.
“You never know what the next farm bill is going to do,” he said. If the state’s base number of farms is recalculated based on prior years’ reported acreage, a missing record can hurt a producer.
“For no more than it takes, they just as well get it reported,” Willbrant said.