August Clinic Dates- Financial & Estate Planning, Beginning Farmer Programs, Debtor/Creditor Law, Water Rights and Much More…

Farmers and ranchers are invited to attend a FREE clinic.  The clinics are one-on-one, not group sessions, and are confidential.  The Farm Finance clinic gives you a chance to meet with an experienced Ag law attorney and Ag financial counselor.  These clinic staff specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters.  Here is an opportunity to obtain an experienced outside opinion on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.  Bring your questions!

August Clinic Dates and Locations:

North Platte – Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fairbury – Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Lexington – Thursday, August 17, 2017

Norfolk – Thursday, August 24, 2017

Valentine – Friday, September 1, 2017

To register for a FREE clinic or to receive more information about our services, call Michelle and the Rural Response Hotline: 1-800-464-0258.

These clinics are sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska.

Legal Aid of Nebraska      Farm mediation

USDA Allows for Emergency Grazing and Haying in Drought-stricken Areas

On July 20, 2017, the USDA authorized the use of additional Conservation Reserve Program lands for emergency haying and grazing in drought-stricken areas in Montana and the Dakotas that have reached D2, or severe drought level or greater on the U.S. Drought Monitor.

This also includes counties with any part of their border that is within 150 miles of authorized counties in the three states may also be eligible for emergency grazing. This includes areas in Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa.

All emergency grazing must end by September 30, while all emergency haying must end by August 31. Any landowners who are interested should contact their local Farm Service Agency office and meet their local Natural Resources Conservations Service staff to get a modified conservation plan in place.


For more information, please visit:

To view the press release, please visit:

Have You Enrolled in ARC/PLC for 2017?

Today the Nebraska FSA Acting State Executive Director Mike Sander issued a statement reminding farmers and ranchers that the deadline for enrollment in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2017 crop year is August 1st, 2017

Agriculture Risk Coverage provides loss coverage at the county level when actual county crop revenue is less than the guarantee.

Price Loss Coverage provides coverage when the effective price of a crop is less than the respective reference price.

A wide range of crops may be covered under these programs, including: barley, corn, oats, rice, soybeans, and wheat.

If you have not yet enrolled, please call or visit your local FSA office. Find your local office at:


For more information, please visit:

USDA Designates Kearney County as a Primary Natural Disaster Area

Highlights from Nebraska Farm Services Agency concerning the recent disaster declaration news release:

  • The US Department of Agriculture recently designated Kearney County as a primary natural disaster area due to the recent drought.
  • Adams, Buffalo, Franklin, Harlan, Phelps and Webster are contiguous and therefore qualify for natural disaster assistance.
  • Farm or ranch operators that meet eligibility requirements are eligible for low interest emergency loans from FSA.
  • The deadline is eight (8) months from September 29, 2016, to apply for loans to help cover part of actual losses.
  • FSA considers each application on its own merits, taking into account:
    • extent of losses;
    • security available; and
    • repayment ability.
  • There are other programs available to help eligible farmers to recover from adversity.

For further information on the designation or other disaster resources available, contact your local FSA offices or go to

For the full original new release, please go to

CRP Acres in Four Nebraska Counties Now Eligible for Emergency Haying and Grazing

(LINCOLN, Neb.) Aug. 18, 2016 — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Dan Steinkruger today announced four counties have been authorized for emergency haying and grazing use of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres due to drought.
The following counties are approved for emergency CRP haying until Aug. 31, 2016, and for grazing through Sept. 30, 2016: Adams, Franklin, Kearney, and Webster.
“Nebraska FSA is making every effort to offer assistance for farmers and ranchers during this tough production year. Emergency haying and grazing can help relieve the burden of losses suffered due to the severe weather Nebraska is experiencing in these counties,” said Steinkruger.

The CRP emergency haying and grazing authorization for 2016 went into effect for these counties over the past week.

Producers who want to hay or graze their CRP contract acres must sign up and receive approval from their local FSA office prior to any emergency haying or grazing activities commencing and must work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to ensure an amended conservation plan is in place.
To take advantage of the emergency haying and grazing provisions, authorized producers can use the CRP acreage for their own livestock or may grant another livestock producer use of the CRP acreage. CRP participants can donate, but are not allowed to sell, the hay.
Steinkruger adds, “There is no payment reduction for CRP acres used for haying and grazing under these emergency provisions. However, participants are limited to one hay cutting.”
For questions, contact your local FSA office or visit Nebraska Farm Service Agency online at

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).

Livestock Disaster Assistance Deadline Approaching

If you are a livestock producer who wants to request assistance for losses suffered from October 1, 2011 through December 31, 2014, the deadline to apply for assistance is fast approaching.  The deadline to apply is January 30, 2015.

Assistance is available via two programs: the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program.

The Livestock Indemnity Program provides financial assistance to eligible producers for livestock deaths due to adverse weather, extreme temperatures, disease, wildfires, or attacks by animals re-introduced into the wild by the federal government or protected by federal law, including wolves and avian predators.

The Livestock Forage Disaster Program provides financial compensation to livestock producers that suffered grazing loss due to drought or fire.  Qualifying droughts are based upon the U.S. Drought Monitor severity ratings and qualifying fires are those on rangeland managed by a federal agency and normally permitted for grazing.

Contact your local FSA office for more information on whether you potentially qualify, the types of records required to document losses, and any other questions you may have.

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.

Updated natural disaster area declarations for Nebraska and Colorado and Kansas contiguous counties

We’ve previously discussed the meaning of a USDA disaster area declaration.  Briefly, a disaster area designation permits producers to access certain USDA programs, such as low interest emergency loans.  Producers have eight months from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for assistance.  Also note that counties contiguous to the counties named as disaster areas qualify for disaster assistance.

On May 28, 2014, the USDA designated 18 Nebraska counties as primary disaster areas due to drought conditions.  The primary disaster counties are:

Arthur Garden Loup
Blaine Garfield McPherson
Custer Gosper Phelps
Dawson Grant Sherman
Deuel Hooker Thomas
Furnas Logan Valley

As a result, 19 other Nebraska counties contiguous counties.  The contiguous counties are:

Brown Harlan Morrill
Buffalo Holt Perkins
Cherry Howard Red Willow
Cheyenne Kearney Rock
Franklin Keith Sheridan
Frontier Lincoln Wheeler

Also note that Sedgwick County in Colorado and Decatur and Norton counties in Kansas are also contiguous counties and therefore eligible for assistance.

If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact us.

Significance of USDA natural disaster area designation

As of this writing, there are several Nebraska counties with a USDA natural disaster area designation.  Some are primary natural disaster areas, while others are counties which are contiguous to a primary natural disaster area.  A current listing of the Nebraska counties designated as a natural disaster area are below but first, what does designation as a USDA natural disaster area mean?

Producers may become eligible for a wide variety of programs.  As of the date of the disaster declaration, all qualified farm operators are eligible for low interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency, assuming other eligibility requirements are met.  The farm operator has eight months from the date of the disaster declaration to apply to help cover actual losses.  Each emergency loan application is considered on its own merits; there is no guarantee of receiving funds.

Other programs that may be of use are the Emergency Conservation Program, crop insurance, and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.  The Small Business Administration also administers disaster assistance loans.

In Nebraska, the following counties are currently USDA disaster areas:

Arthur (drought)
Chase (drought)
Custer (drought)
Dawson (drought)
Deuel (drought)
Dundy (drought)
Frontier (drought)
Furnas (drought)
Garden (drought)
Gosper (drought)
Hayes (drought)
Hitchcock (drought)
Keith (drought)
Lincoln (drought)
Logan (drought)
McPherson (drought)
Perkins (drought)
Red Willow (drought)

If you live in one of these counties and need help navigating your options, feel free to contact us and we’re happy to help!

Farmer and Rancher Disaster Assistance Program Sign-Ups Announced

As of Tuesday, April 15, 2014, farmers and ranchers may sign-up for disaster assistance programs that received funding under the 2014 Farm Bill.

The following disaster assistance programs are taking sign-ups:

Livestock Indemnity Program (“LIP”) and Livestock Forage Disaster Program (“LFP”) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014.

LIP provides payments to eligible producers who suffered livestock death in excess of normal mortality due to weather (see: South Dakota blizzard).  Eligible livestock include beef cattle, dairy cattle, bison, poultry, sheep, swine, horses, and other livestock as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.  Remember that documentation of livestock death is required.  The documentation can include photographs and video of the livestock loss (dated if possible); purchase records, veterinarian records, production records, or bank or other loan documents; and/or Written contracts, records assembled for tax purposes, private insurance documents, and other similar reliable documents.

LFP provides payments to eligible producers grazing losses due to drought or fire.  Payments for drought are equal to 60 percent of the monthly feed cost for up to five months.  Payments for drought are based upon the severity of drought as rated by the United States Drought Monitor.  You can see if your county is eligible here. Payments for fire on federally managed rangeland are equal to 50 percent of the monthly feed cost for the number of days the producer is prohibited from grazing the managed rangeland, not to exceed 180 calendar days. The grazing losses must have occurred on or after Oct. 1, 2011.

Funding is also available under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (“ELAP”).  ELAP provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have losses due to disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.

If any of these disaster assistance programs may work for you, call your local FSA office.  The first step to any potential payment is determining eligibility and signing up for the program.