by Richard Brzozowski, Extension Educator, Cumberland County and Tori Jackson, Extension Educator, Androscoggin & Sagadahoc Counties
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers that the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended the authorization of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) for many Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) commodity, disaster, and conservation programs through 2013. FSA administers these programs.
The extended programs include, among others: the Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment Program (DCP), the Average Crop Revenue Election Program (ACRE), and the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC). FSA is preparing the following actions:
The 2013 DCP and ACRE program provisions are unchanged from 2012, except that all eligible participants in 2013 may choose to enroll in either DCP or ACRE for the 2013 crop year. This means that eligible producers who were enrolled in ACRE in 2012 may elect to enroll in DCP in 2013 or may re-enroll in ACRE in 2013 (and vice versa). All dairy producers’ MILC contracts are automatically extended to Sept. 30, 2013. Eligible producers therefore do not need to re-enroll in MILC. Specific details regarding certain modifications to MILC will be released soon.
FSA will provide producers with information on program requirements, updates and signups as the information becomes available. Any additional details will be posted on FSA’s Web site.
The 2013 Maine Vegetable & Fruit School will be held Tuesday, March 12, at Seasons Conference Center in Portland, and on Wednesday, March 13, at the Bangor Motor Inn. Preregistration is requested no later than February 25, 2013.
The fee is $35.00 and includes lunch. Participants may receive 1 Pesticide Applicator recertification credit, and Certified Crop Advisors may earn 5 recertification credits. More information, including how to register, is posted on the Highmoor Farm Web site.
FSA to Help Beginning and Small Farmers
New and beginning farmers in Maine now have an agricultural Microloan credit option to consider. As of Jan. 15, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will offer its customers a Microloan designed to help farmers with credit needs of $35,000 or less. The loan features a streamlined application and a simplified qualification process built to fit the needs of new and smaller producers.
“This innovative offering will be more customer-friendly than our larger, more traditional loan programs,” said Farm Loan Manager Mike Dennison. “Farms seeking a smaller loan for start-up or operational needs now have a great new tool to consider. For those selling at Farmers’ Markets or through community-supported agriculture operations (CSAs), a Microloan might serve their needs perfectly,” Dennison continued, “and the reduced paperwork associated with the new Microloan will help expedite the process for everyone.”
In FY2012, the Farm Service Agency provided approximately $13.2 million in farm loan assistance to agricultural producers of all sizes in Maine. That year, operating loans accounted for the majority of the loans extended (126), while farm ownership loans were fewer (20).
“The interest rate of 1.25 percent on the new FSA Microloan is also a great benefit for farmers who are just starting out, in need of capital and on a tight budget,” according to FLM Dennison. “Producers in every Maine county can contact their nearest FSA office for details and to determine if they qualify for a Microloan.” The Microloan term can be up to seven years.
In response to tighter financial markets, USDA has expanded the availability of farm credit, helping farmers refinance loans across the U.S. Since 2009, USDA has provided more than 128,000 loans to family farmers totaling more than $18 billion. Over 50 percent of the loans went to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. For more information on Microloans and other FSA programs, please contact your local USDA service center.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District are offering a five-workshop series covering the following topics:
These weekly workshop sessions will begin February 26 and end March 26, 2013. The workshops will be held at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Office, 24 Main Street, Lisbon Falls. The cost is $75 per person to attend all five sessions or $20 per person for any individual session. The Small Farmer Workshop Flyer, and registration forms are available at the Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District Web site.