New Survey from the National Young Farmers Coalition

The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) conducted a survey named National Young Farmer Survey in 2017. They surveyed 3,517 current, former, and aspiring U.S. farmers under the age of 40. A few interesting findings from the responses were: 60% of the respondents were women, 75% of the respondents did not grow up on a farm, and 69% were highly educated, having degrees past high school. The highest percentage of respondents (30.48%) were in the Northeast part of the United States. The average age of the respondents was 29 and more than 10% of the respondents were farmers of color or indigenous farmers.

For the survey, the NYFC gathered information pertaining to the top challenges that beginning farmers face. They found that the top challenges were access to land, student loan debt, finding labor help, and health insurance. Money seems to be a big factor when it comes to young and beginning farmers. A lot do not have the current means to obtain land, whether it be because they have significant loan debt or do not have enough credit to apply or receive loans to launch their farms. Since farming can be a dangerous career, health insurance is a must. Health insurance also costs money, but respondents say the Affordable Care Act is the most helpful insurance policy for them.

The survey also discusses how lawmakers can help young farmers start their farms despite the obstacles. Lawmakers can help young farmers by addressing land access and affordability, helping them manage their student debt, increase the skilled agriculture workforce, protect affordable health care, enable farmers to invent on-farm conservation, improve finances, and address racial inequality. If lawmakers helped with the above, young and beginning farmers would not face as many challenges of beginning a farming career.

Although beginning farming comes with challenges and risks, this generation has the skills to power through the ups and downs of starting a farming business. The NYFC survey results indicate that the young farmers of this generation are more diverse than those who have been farming for several years. Young farmers now are interested in operating smaller farms, committed to sustainable farming, and are optimistic about the future. The responses surely show that there isn’t one just type of farmer and that you don’t need to have farming history or past experience to want to be in the farming business.

If you are interested in reading the entire NYFC survey report, you can view it here.

 

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act H.R. 4316

On November 8, 2017, Representatives Tim Walz (D-MN) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), introduced The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (H.R. 4316). This legislation supports the next generation of farmers and ranchers through changes to pertinent programs and issues including credit, technical skill development, crop insurance, and conservation. The farm and ranch community is aging; the average national age of a farmer is 58.  Millions of agricultural land acres will be changing hands in the next decade. This legislation focuses on breaking down some of those barriers that keep beginning farmers and ranchers from succeeding. For example, limitations on the number of acres enrolled in the Conservation Resources Program (CRP) will be removed, along with increasing the flexibility of CRP landowners to contract with socially disadvantage or veteran farmers in the last 3 years of their CRP contract. Additionally, this legislation prioritizes skill development for beginning farmers and ranchers by supporting service providers in their states to increase training and information gathering. Limits on lending by FSA for Direct Farm Ownership Loan will be increased to $500,000 to help purchase a farm or ranch. To learn more about The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, please visit this Sectional Outline or the Full Text of the legislation.

Farm transition and succession is the main focus of Legal Aid of Nebraska’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. We work daily with established farmers and ranchers on transitioning their farm. Additionally, we work closely with beginning farmers and ranchers with their legal needs, along with financial guidance, to ensure their enterprises are sustainable and successful. If you have any questions about farm and ranch transitions please call the Rural Response Hotline 1-800-464-0258.

USDA Authorizes 9.6 Billion in ARC, PLC, and CRP Payments

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced on October 3, 2017, that payments totaling 9.6 billion will be paid to producers for crop loss through the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, and for conservation efforts through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Over three quarters of a million producers will see payments under the ARC and PLC programs amounting to $8 billion payments for the 2016 crop year. Crops covered under this program include:

  • Barley;
  • Corn;
  • Grain sorghum;
  • Lentils;
  • Oats;
  • Peanuts;
  • Dry beans;
  • Soybeans;
  • Wheat; and
  • Canola.

Payments will be made for other covered crops under these programs after the marketing year average prices are determined.

CRP payments total 1.6 billion to over 375,000 producers in 2017. This voluntary program focuses on taking environmentally sensitive lands out of production to protect those acres and improve water and habitat quality.

Both of these programs are designed to help farmers and ranchers in time of need and to protect and conserve sensitive land on the operations.

If you have any questions regarding these programs, please contact us. Read the full  Press Release from the USDA.

South Dakota Workshops Ranch/Farm Succession Planning & USDA Loan Programs and FSA Disaster and Drought Programs

Two separate free workshops will be offered to farmers and ranchers in Belle Fourche, South Dakota at the Branding Iron Café with a light lunch provided.  These workshops are not limited to Beginning Farmers and are open to the public. To register (and for questions) call the Rural Response Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.

The first workshop is from 9 am to 12:00 pm on Tuesday, August 29, 2017, it will address both farm and ranch succession planning, and USDA loan programs, including those loan programs intended to support beginning farmers and ranchers.  The succession planning portion will cover basic estate and transitioning planning issues and tools, including federal transfer taxes, incapacity planning, transfer tools (wills, titling and trusts), balancing the interests of on-farm and off-farm heirs (access to land and operational assets, contribution & compensation, management and control, asset protection, leases, tools for co-ownership), and decision making steps in the transition planning process.  The USDA loan segment will cover Farm Service Agency loan programs, including direct and guaranteed loans, beginning farmer loans, microloans, and storage facility loans.

The second workshop is from 9 am to 12:00 pm on Wednesday, August 30, 2017, it will address Farm Service Agency disaster programs, including the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP), and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).   We will discuss program benefits and coverage and eligibility criteria.

There will also be an opportunity to engage in one-on-one discussions with the presenters by signing up for free ½ hours sessions after the workshop.

These workshops and clinics are made available through The Nebraska Network for Beginning Ranchers and Farmers, which includes services in South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado, and the Farm Law Project of Legal Aid of Nebraska.

Presenters:

Joe Hawbaker, Agricultural Law Attorney, with Hawbaker Law Office, Omaha, Nebraska.

Amy Swoboda, Farm and Food Attorney with Legal Aid of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska.

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: www.fsa.usda.gov/emergency-hayandgraze

To view the press release, please visit: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/Nebraska/news-releases/2017/stnr_ne_20170720_rel_06

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: https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app

 

For more information, please visit: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/arcplc_program/index

New Commodities Added to Farm Storage and Facility Loan Program

We’ve previously discussed the Farm Storage Facility Loan program, with the recent additions of cold storage facilities for fruits and vegetables.  However, the USDA announced yesterday additional commodities will be covered under FSFL.  The new commodities are:

  • Aquaculture (excluding systems that maintain live animals through uptake and discharge of water)
  • Floriculture
  • Hops
  • Milk
  • Rye
  • Meat and poultry (unprocessed)
  • Eggs
  • Cheese, butter, and yogurt

The expansion of FSFL, especially for meat and dairy, is likely welcome news for small and niche producers.  We’re happy to help in any way if you have questions about the program, or any FSA program — feel free to contact us!

Enrollment Period for ARC and PLC Now Open

The USDA has announced that eligible producers may now officially enroll in Agricultural Price Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2014 and 2015 crop years.  Enrollment officially begins tomorrow, June 17, 2015 and runs through September 31, 2015.

Nationally, 96% of soybean farms, 91% of corn farms,  and 66% of wheat farms elected ARC-County coverage.  In Nebraska:

  • 53% of barley farms elected PLC, whereas 47% elected ARC-County;
  • 5% of corn farms elected PLC, whereas 95% elected ARC-County;
  • 31% of grain sorghum farms elected PLC, whereas 69% elected ARC-County;
  • 16% of oat farms elected PLC, whereas 84% elected ARC-County;
  • 3% of soybean farms elected PLC, whereas 97% elected ARC-County; and
  • 34% of wheat farms elected PLC, whereas 65% elected ARC-County.

The link also contains information about canola, dry peas, flax, lentils, large chickpeas, mustard, peanuts, safflower, small chickpeas, and sunflowers if those crops of are interest to you.

 

USDA Conservation Assistance Now Online

The USDA recently announced that farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners can now work with the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) online.  The new Conservation Client Gateway permits producers to work with conservation planners online to access Farm Bill programs, request assistance, and track payments for conservation activities.  Now, instead of a trip to your local USDA service center, you can fire up your computer and log on to the Gateway.

The Gateway can be used to:

  • Request NRCS technical and financial assistance;
  • Review and sign conservation plans and practice schedules;
  • Complete and sign an application for a conservation program;
  • Review, sign and submit contracts and appendices for conservation programs;
  • Document completed practices and request certification of completed practices;
  • Request and track payments for conservation programs; and
  • Store and retrieve technical and financial files, including documents and photographs.

Currently, the Gateway is limited to individuals but will soon be expanded to included business entities, such as limited liability companies.

To get started with the Gateway, you will need to have:

  1. An individual Service Center Information Management System (SCIMS) record with a primary email address that is linked to your Level 2 eAuth account.
  2. A USDA Level 2 eAuthentication (eAuth) account that is linked to your SCIMS record.

More information about getting started is at the link.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us — we’re happy to help!

Deadline Extension For Updating Basis and Yield

A quick note that serves as an addendum to yesterday’s post.  The USDA has announced a one-time extension to update basis and yield due to the implementation of ARC and PLC safety-net programs.

The deadline to update basis and yield is extended from February 28, 2015 to March 31, 2015.  This is the same date for producers to elect between ARC and PLC coverage.

If no updates are made to basis and/or yield, the farm’s current base and yield will be used.  Additionally, if no election between PLC and ARC is made by March 31, 2015, the farm will automatically be enrolled for PLC coverage through the 2018 crop year  and no payments for the 2014 crop year will be made.

In short:  make the time to study the choices, use the online decision-tools and head over to your local FSA office with questions and to make elections if so desired.