New Farm Bill Program for Farmers Affected by Severe Weather

Pursuant to the 2014 Farm Bill, the USDA is implementing a new program for farmers affected by severe weather, including drought.  The Actual Production History (APH) Yield Exclusion, available in Spring 2015 for selected crops, allows eligible producers who have been hit with severe weather to receive a higher approved yield on their insurance policies through the federal crop insurance program.

Eligible spring crops are corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, grain sorghum, rice, barley, canola, sunflowers, peanuts, and popcorn.

The APH Yield Exclusion allows farmers to exclude yields in exceptionally bad years (such as a year in which a natural disaster or other extreme weather occurs) from their production history when calculating yields used to establish their crop insurance coverage. The level of insurance coverage available to a farmer is based on the farmer’s average recent yields. In the past, a year of particularly low yields that occurred due to severe weather beyond the farmer’s control would reduce the level of insurance coverage available to the farmer in future years. By excluding unusually bad years, farmers will not have to worry that a natural disaster will reduce their insurance coverage for years to come.

Under the program, yields can be excluded from farm actual production history when the county average yield for that crop year is at least 50 percent below the 10 previous consecutive crop years’ average yield.

Nebraska Small Farm Workshop and Farm Beginnings Class

The Nebraska Small Farm Workshop will be held this year on Saturday, November 8, 2014 in Nebraska City.  Hosted by the University of Nebraska Extension, Nemaha County, the Workshop features three breakout sessions, as well as sessions on FSA programs for small and beginning farmers and a general session features Brad Kindler.

Also worth noting is that a Farm Beginnings class is tentatively being offered in Omaha if there is enough interest.  The Farm Beginnings class will start in January.  Feel free to contact us if you have an interest — we can point you in the right direction to sign up!

Farm Credit Services of America Grants

Farm Credit Services of America offers grants to projects and organizations that make a difference in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, or Wyoming.  The grants are focused upon:

  • Agriculture Education — this is education for youth, high school, university, general public, or producers specific to agriculture
  • Young and Beginning Producers — funding for projects or initiatives for the next generation of agriculture
  • Hunger and Nutrition — support for addressing food and hunger issues, enabling food production and providing a food source for needed populations and geographical areas

The maximum grant is $2,000.  Applications are considered quarterly; thus, applications for the current grant period are due December 31, 2014.  Applications may be made online here.

Feel free to take a look at the FCSA grant program — it may be just the grant you or your operation could need!

SARE Farmer/Rancher Grants Due November 20

SARE, or Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, annual Farmer/Rancher grants are due on November 20th.

The grants are for farmers and ranchers to fund innovative ideas to advance sustainable agriculture.  An individual farmer or rancher can receive up to $7,500, two farmers or ranchers working together can receive up to $15,000, and three or more farmers or ranchers can receive up to $22,500 in grant funding.

To gain an idea of the types of projects funded, see here.  If you have any questions or want some assistance with putting together a grant proposal, feel free to contact us!

USDA releases decision-making tools for ARC and PLC coverage

The USDA has released two new decision tool to assist farmers in selecting ARC or PLC coverage.  The first decision tool is led by Texas A&M and the University of Missouri.  The second decision tool is from the University of Illinois.

The USDA also announced key dates farmers need to know as ARC and PLC are ushered in:

September 29, 2014 to February 27, 2015 — Land owners may visit their local FSA office to update yield history and/or reallocate base acres

November 17, 2014 to March 31, 2015 — Producers make a one-time election of either ARC or PLC for the 2014 to 2018 crop years

Mid-April 2015 through summer 2015 — Producers sign contracts for 2014 and 2015 crop year

October 2015 — Payments for 2014 crop year, if needed


A compilation of video for education and entertainment

Courtesy of The Rural Blog, the following are videos and other information available for farmers, ranchers, and those interested in rural issues.  If you have a small break during the harvest, check out of these videos!

The documentary Farmland is available on Hulu during the month of October.

If you are interested in honeybee population loss, a new documentary looks at the problem.

The Des Moines Register has an interesting series, called Harvest of Change, examining life on Iowa’s family farms.



Nebraska Personal Property Tax Exemption for Beginning Farmers Due November 1

Nebraska’s beginning farmers and ranchers have a tax program available to them, the Personal Property Tax Exemption.  Applications are due by November 1, 2014 for the 2015 tax year.  The Personal Property Tax Exemption is for beginning farmers, defined as those farming for ten years or less out of the past fifteen.  What the tax exemption provides is:

  • A three year tax exemption on tangible personal property up to $100,000 per year; for
  • Tangible personal property is agricultural or horticultural machinery and equipment.

How do you apply?  The application can be found at the Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s website.  (Note the application is the same as the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit — just check the box for the personal property exemption in the upper-right hand corner.)  You must apply by November 1 of the year preceding the year in which the exemption is to begin.  This means for an exemption starting in 2014, you must apply by November 1, 2013.

Does this mean the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit and Personal Property Exemption must be applied for at the same time?  No!  Does it also mean you must be a beginning farmer throughout the three year exemption?  No — you must only be a beginning farmer in the first year of the exemption.  However, the exemption is a one-time only proposition — you cannot keep applying for it.

This means that you can plan ahead for the optional time to apply for the tax exemption.  If your operation’s business plan is to purchase equipment in years five through seven (and you remain a beginning farmer at year five), you would want to apply for the tax exemption at that time, rather than applying for it immediately.

If you have any questions or require any assistance in applying for the personal property tax exemption, feel free to contact Legal Aid of Nebraska at 855-660-1391 or online here.

USDA Expanding Opportunities for Beginning Farmers

The USDA announced yesterday new and exciting changes (read: opportunities) for beginning farmers, effective November 7.  Below are a quick list of the changes, which will be discussed in further depth in later blog posts:

  • The borrowing limit for microloans increases from $35,000 to $50,000;
  • Simplified procedures for lending;
  • Updating “farming experience” to include other experiences;
  • Expanding eligible business entities to reflect changes in how family farms and ranches or owned and operated.

More information from the USDA may be found here.