March Illinois FSA Newsletter

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[April 18, 2019]    Message from the State Director - Illinois FSA would like to welcome Kirk Liefer to the Farm Service Agency with his recent appointment to the USDA-Farm Service Agency State Committee by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Liefer will join the current FSA State Committee made up of Chairperson - James Reed; Committee Member - Melanie DeSutter; Committee Member - George Obernagel III and Committee Member - Troy Uphoff.

The FSA State Committee are responsible for the oversight of farm programs and county committee operations, hearing appeals from
the agriculture community, and helping to keep producers informed about FSA programs.

Kirk Liefer and his wife Stephanie, along with their five children live in Red Bud, IL. They are the owners of CH Farms, LLC and farm with Kirk’s parents and two younger brothers and their spouses. They raise corn, soybeans, wheat, and raise soybeans for Pioneer Hi-Bred. Their family farm also has a Pioneer Hi-Bred seed dealership. In 2018 they opened a brewery, Lieferbrau, with Kirk's younger siblings and their spouses.

Welcome to FSA Kirk!

I would also like to remind producers of the May 1, 2019, deadline to certify their production for MFP benefits.


Beginning Farmer Loans

FSA assists beginning farmers to finance agricultural enterprises. Under these designated farm loan programs, FSA can provide financing to eligible applicants through either direct or guaranteed loans. FSA defines a beginning farmer as a person who:

Has operated a farm for not more than 10 years Will materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm
Agrees to participate in a loan assessment, borrower training and financial management program sponsored by FSA
Does not own a farm in excess of 30 percent of the county’s average size farm. Additional program information, loan applications, and other materials are available at your local USDA Service Center. You may also visit www.fsa.


USDA Announces Streamlined Guaranteed Loans and Additional Lender Category for Small-Scale Operators
Options Help More Beginning, Small and Urban Producers Gain Access to Credit

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of a streamlined version of USDA guaranteed loans, which are tailored for smaller scale farms and urban producers. The program, called EZ Guarantee Loans, uses a simplified application process to help beginning, small, underserved and family farmers and ranchers apply for loans of up to $100,000 from USDA-approved lenders to purchase farmland or finance agricultural operations.

A new category of lenders will join traditional lenders, such as banks and credit unions, in offering USDA EZ Guarantee Loans. Microlenders, which include Community Development Financial Institutions and Rural Rehabilitation Corporations, will be able to offer their customers up to $50,000 of EZ Guaranteed Loans, helping to reach urban areas and underserved producers. Banks, credit unions and other traditional USDA-approved lenders, can offer customers up to $100,000 to help with agricultural operation costs.

EZ Guarantee Loans offer low interest rates and terms up to seven years for financing operating expenses and 40 years for financing the purchase of farm real estate. USDA-approved lenders can issue these loans with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) guaranteeing the loan up to 95 percent.

More information about the available types of FSA farm loans can be found at  or by contacting your local FSA office.


Emergency Disaster Declarations and Designations

Farmers and ranchers know all too well that natural disasters can be a common, and likely a costly, variable to their operation. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) has emergency assistance programs to provide assistance when disasters strike, and for some of those programs, a disaster designation may be the eligibility trigger. When natural disaster occurs, there is a process for requesting a USDA Secretarial disaster designation for a county. Agricultural producers can play a vital role in this process.

If you have experienced a production loss as a result of a natural disaster, you may submit a request to your local FSA county office for your county to be evaluated for a Secretarial disaster designation. Once a request is received, the county office will collect disaster data and create a Loss Assessment Report. The County Emergency Board will review the Loss Assessment Report and determine if a recommendation will be sent forward.



USDA Secretarial Disaster Designation

The designation process can be initiated by individual farmers, local government officials, State governors, State agriculture commissions, tribal councils or the FSA State Executive Director

This designation is triggered by a 30-percent or greater production loss to at least one crop because of a natural disaster, or at least 1 producer who sustained individual losses because of a natural disaster and is unable to obtain commercial financing to cover those losses

In 2012, USDA developed a fast-track process for disaster declarations for severe drought. This provides for a nearly automatic designation when, during the growing season, any portion of a county meets the D2 (Severe Drought) drought intensity value for eight consecutive weeks or a higher drought intensity value for any length of time as reported by the U.S. Drought Monitor -  http://drought  FSA administers four types of disaster designations. All four types of designations immediately trigger the availability of low-interest Emergency loans to eligible producers in all primary and contiguous counties.

FSA borrowers in these counties who are unable to make their scheduled payments on any debt may be authorized to have certain set asides. Additional disaster assistance requiring a designation may also be provided by new programs in the future. For more information on FSA disaster programs and disaster designations, visit www.fsa.usda. gov/disaster


Farm Storage Facility Loans

FSA’s Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program provides low-interest financing to producers to build or upgrade storage facilities and to purchase portable (new or used) structures, equipment and storage and handling trucks.

The low-interest funds can be used to build or upgrade permanent facilities to store commodities. Eligible commodities include corn, grain sorghum, rice, soybeans, oats, peanuts, wheat, barley, minor oilseeds harvested as whole grain, pulse crops (lentils, chickpeas and dry peas), hay, honey, renewable biomass, fruits, nuts and vegetables for cold storage facilities, floriculture, hops, maple sap, rye, milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, meat and poultry (unprocessed), eggs, and aquaculture (excluding systems that maintain live animals through uptake and discharge of water). Qualified facilities include grain bins, hay barns and cold storage facilities for eligible commodities.

Loans up to $100,000 can be secured by a promissory note/security agreement. Loans exceeding $100,000 require additional security.

Producers do not need to demonstrate the lack of commercial credit availability to apply. The loans are designed to assist a diverse range of farming operations, including small and mid-sized businesses, new farmers, operations supplying local food and farmers markets, non-traditional farm products, and underserved producers.

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To learn more about the FSA Farm Storage Facility Loan, visit www.fsa.usda. gov/pricesupport or contact your local FSA county office. To find your local FSA county office, visit http://offices.


Marketing Assistance Available for 2018 Crops

The 2014 Farm Bill authorized 2014-2018 crop year Marketing Assistance Loans (MALs) and Loan Deficiency Payments (LDPs).

MAL’s provide financing and marketing assistance for 2018 crop wheat, feed grains, soybeans and other oilseeds, pulse crops, wool and honey. MAL’s provide producers interim financing after harvest to help them meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are typically at harvest-time lows.

A producer who is eligible to obtain an MAL, but agrees to forgo the loan, may obtain an LDP if such a payment is available.

To be eligible for an MAL or an LDP, producers must have a beneficial interest in the commodity, in addition to other requirements. A producer retains beneficial interest when control of and title to the commodity is maintained. For an LDP, the producer must retain beneficial interest in the commodity from the time of planting through the date the producer filed Form CCC-633EZ (page 1) in the FSA County Office. For more information, producers should contact their local FSA county office or view the LDP Fact Sheet.


Unauthorized Disposition of Grain

If loan grain has been disposed of through feeding, selling or any other form of disposal without prior written authorization from the county office staff, it is considered unauthorized disposition. The financial penalties for unauthorized dispositions are severe and a producer’s name will be placed on a loan violation list for a two-year period. Always call before you haul any grain under loan.


Reporting Solar Panels Constructed on Cropland

Producers who have solar panels constructed on their farms should notify the local Farm Service Agency office. Any area that is no longer considered suitable as cropland (producing annual or perennial crops) should be designated in FSA’s records and aerial photography maps. When base acres on a farm are converted to a non-agricultural commercial or industrial use, the total base acres on the farm must be reduced accordingly. Non-cropland areas used for solar panels might impact payments calculated using base acres, such as Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) annual rental payments.



Reporting Wind Turbines Constructed on Cropland

Producers who have wind turbines constructed on their farms should notify the local Farm Service Agency office. Any area that is no longer considered suitable as cropland (producing annual or perennial crops) should be designated in FSA’s records and aerial photography maps. When base acres on a farm are converted to a non-agricultural commercial or industrial use, the total base acres on the farm must be reduced accordingly. Non-cropland areas used for wind turbines might impact payments calculated using base acres, such as Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) annual rental payments.


Farm Reconstitutions

When changes in farm ownership or operation take place, a farm reconstitution is necessary. The reconstitution — or recon — is the process of combining or dividing farms or tracts of land based on the farming operation.

To be effective for the current Fiscal Year (FY), farm combinations and farm divisions must be requested by August 1 of the FY for farms subject to the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program. A reconstitution is considered to be requested when all:

of the required signatures are on FSA-155
other applicable documentation, such as proof of ownership, is submitted.
Total Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and non-ARC/PLC farms may be reconstituted at any time.

The following are the different methods used when doing a farm recon:

Estate Method — the division of bases, allotments and quotas for a parent farm among heirs in settling an estate;

Designation of Landowner Method — may be used when (1) part of a farm is sold or ownership is transferred; (2) an entire farm is sold to two or more persons; (3) farm ownership is transferred to two or more persons; (4) part of a tract is sold or ownership is transferred; (5) a tract is sold to two or more persons; or (6) tract ownership is transferred to two or more persons. In order to use this method the land sold must have been owned for at least three years, or a waiver granted, and the buyer and seller must sign a Memorandum of Understanding;

DCP Cropland Method — the division of bases in the same proportion that the DCP cropland for each resulting tract relates to the DCP cropland on the parent tract;

Default Method — the division of bases for a parent farm with each tract maintaining the bases attributed to the tract level when the reconstitution is initiated in the system.


Illinois Farm Service Agency
3500 Wabash Ave.
Springfield, IL 62711

Phone: 217-241-6600 ext. 2
Fax: 855-800-1760

State Executive Director:
William J. Graff

State Committee:
James Reed-Chairperson
Melanie DeSutter-Member
Kirk Liefer-Member
George Obernagel III-Member
Troy Uphoff-Member

Administrative Officer:
Dan Puccetti

Division Chiefs:
John Gehrke
Randy Tillman

To find contact information for your local office go to

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).


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