There are many answers to this question, but I hope that the
young farmers do not overlook the FSA Beginning Farmer Loans.
One hurdle for a beginning farmer to qualify for a loan is to
have a minimum of 3 years of experience as an operator of a
farm. One way, if you are of legal age, is to be listed along
with your parent or parents or another family member as an
additional operator on a FSA farm number.
Experience with FFA, 4-H, other agricultural youth programs like
Illinois Beef Association junior program, or a breed association
junior program, FSA youth loans, and college agricultural
classes and degrees are an added plus to show experience.
If you want to start farming, the main thing I will tell you is
the place to go ask questions is your local FSA office and your
local FSA Farm Loan staff.
State Executive Director
USDA Enrollment Period for Safety Net Coverage in 2018
Farmers and ranchers with base acres in the Agriculture Risk
Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) safety net program
may enroll for the 2018 crop year. The enrollment period will
end on Aug. 1, 2018.
Since shares and ownership of a farm can change year-to-year,
producers must enroll by signing a contract each program year.
The producers on a farm that are not enrolled for the 2018
enrollment period will not be eligible for financial assistance
from the ARC or PLC programs for the 2018 crop should crop
prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or
revenue benchmarks established by the program. Producers who
made their elections in previous years must still enroll during
the 2018 enrollment period.
The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill
and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a
substantial drop in prices or revenues for covered commodities.
Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small
chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils,
mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain
rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet
rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and
wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity. For more
details regarding these programs, go to www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.
For more information, producers are encouraged to visit their
local FSA office. To find a local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.
2016, 2017 and 2018 Average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
The AGI verification and compliance reviews for 2016, 2017 and
2018 are conducted on producers who the IRS indicated may have
exceeded the adjusted gross income limitations described in [7
CFR 1400.500]. Based on this review, producers will receive
determinations of eligibility or ineligibility.
If the producer is determined to have exceeded the average AGI
limitation of $900,000, receivables will be established for
payments earned directly or indirectly by the producer subject
to the $900,000 limitation. The State FSA Office continues to
notify producers selected for review. If you have any questions
about the review process or determinations, please contact the
Illinois State FSA Office at 217-241-6600. Producers who receive
initial debt notification letters may only appeal the amount of
the debt to their local FSA office. Payment eligibility adverse
determinations become administratively final 30 days from the
date of the payment eligibility adverse determination letter and
can only be reopened if exceptional circumstances exist that
prevented the producer from timely filing the appeal.
More information AGI can be found online at https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/payment-eligibility/adjusted-gross-income/index
2018 Signup for CRP
For this year’s signup, limited priority practices are available
for continuous enrollment. They include grassed waterways,
filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others.
View a full list of practices.
FSA will use updated soil rental rates to make annual rental
payments, reflecting current values. It will not offer incentive
payments as part of the new signup.
USDA will not open a general signup this year, however, a
one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants
with expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less. Producers
eligible for an extension will receive a letter with more
Livestock Inventory Records
Producers are reminded to keep updated livestock inventory
records. These records are necessary in the event of a natural
When disasters strike, the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) can
assist producers who suffered excessive livestock death losses
and grazing or feed losses due to eligible natural disasters.
To participate in livestock disaster assistance programs,
producers will be required to provide verifiable documentation
of death losses resulting from an eligible adverse weather event
and must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office
within 30 calendar days of when the loss of livestock is
apparent. For grazing or feed losses, producers must submit a
notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days
of when the loss is apparent and should maintain documentation
Producers should record all pertinent information regarding
livestock inventory records including:
Documentation of the number, kind, type,
and weight range of livestock
Beginning inventory supported by birth
recordings or purchase receipts;
For more information on documentation requirements, contact your
local county FSA office.
Communication is Key in Lending
Farm Service Agency (FSA) is committed to providing our farm
loan borrowers the tools necessary to be a success. A part of
ensuring this success is providing guidance and counsel from the
loan application process through the borrower’s graduation to
commercial lending institutions. While it is FSA’s commitment to
advise borrowers as they identify goals and evaluate progress,
it is crucial for borrowers to communicate with their farm loan
staff when changes occur. It is the borrower’s responsibility to
alert FSA to any of the following:
Any proposed or significant changes in the
Any significant changes to family income or
The development of problem situations;
Any losses or proposed significant changes
in security In addition, if a farm loan borrower cannot make
payments to suppliers, other creditors, or FSA on time,
contact your farm loan staff immediately to discuss loan
servicing options. For more information on FSA farm loan
programs, visit www.fsa.usda.gov or contact the Farm Loan
staff at your local county 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.
FSA administers four types of disaster designations:
1) 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://droughtmonitor.unl.edu)
2) Administrator’s Physical Loss Notification
This designation is initiated by the FSA State Executive
The designation is triggered by physical damage and losses
because of a natural disaster, including but not limited to dead
livestock, collapsed buildings, and destroyed farm structures.
3) Presidential Designation
A Presidential major disaster designation and emergency
declaration is initiated by the Governor of the impacted state
through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
This designation is triggered by damage and losses caused by a
disaster of such severity and magnitude that effective response
is beyond the capability of the State and local governments.
4) Quarantine Designation
This designation is requested of the Secretary of Agriculture by
the FSA State Executive Director
A quarantine designation is triggered by damage and losses
caused by the effects of a plant or animal quarantine approved
by the Secretary under the Plant Protection Act or animal
quarantine laws. All four types of designations immediately
trigger the availability of low-interest Emergency loans to
eligible producers in all primary and contiguous counties.
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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.
ARC/PLC Acreage Maintenance
Program participants convicted under federal or state law of any
planting, cultivating, growing, producing, harvesting or storing
a controlled substance are ineligible for program payments and
benefits. If convicted of one of these offensives, the program
participant shall be ineligible during that crop year and the
four succeeding crop years for price support loans, loan
deficiency payments, market loan gains, storage payments, farm
facility loans, Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program
payments or disaster payments.
Program participants convicted of any federal or state offense
consisting of the distribution (trafficking) of a controlled
substance, at the discretion of the court, may be determined
ineligible for any or all program payments and benefits:
for up to 5 years after the first conviction
for up to 10 years after the second conviction
permanently for a third or subsequent
Program participants convicted of federal or state offense for
the possession of a controlled substance shall be ineligible, at
the discretion of the court, for any or all program benefits, as
More information can be found online at
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
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
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 your local county FSA
office. You may also visit www.fsa.usda.gov.
FSA Releases Signup Information for Tree Assistance Program
USDA’s Farm Service Agency recently released signup information
for the Tree Assistance Program, a nationwide program that
provides orchardists and nursery tree growers with cost share
assistance to replant eligible trees, bushes, and vines
following a natural disaster.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 prescribed several changes to
the program, including the removal of the $125,000 per person
and legal entity payment limitation. The notice outlined when
producers should file applications for any recent losses, given
the changes to the program.
Eligible producers should file for TAP assistance by the later
of these two dates:
The following producers can file applications:
Additionally, producers with 2017 losses can also file an
application or revise an original application because of the
changes made through the Act.
For more information on TAP, producers should contact their
local county FSA office.
Payments to Deceased Producers
In order to claim a Farm Service Agency (FSA) payment on behalf
of a deceased producer, all program conditions for the payment
must have been met before the applicable producer’s date of
If a producer earned a FSA payment prior to becoming deceased,
the following is the order of precedence of the representatives
of the producer:
administrator or executor of the estate
the surviving spouse
surviving sons and daughters, including adopted
surviving father and mother
surviving brothers and sisters
heirs of the deceased person who would be
entitled to payment according to the State law
In order for FSA to release the payment, the legal
representative of the deceased producer must file a form
FSA-325, to claim the payment for themselves or an estate. The
county office will verify and determine that the application,
contract, loan agreement, or other similar form requesting
payment issuance, was signed by the applicable deadline for such
form, by the deceased or a person legally authorized to act on
their behalf at that time of application.
If the application, contract or loan agreement form was signed
by someone other than the participant who is deceased, FSA will
determine whether the person submitting the form has the legal
authority to submit the form to compel FSA to pay the deceased
Payments will be issued to the respective representative’s name
using the deceased program participant’s tax identification
number. Payments made to representatives are subject to offset
regulations for debts owed by the deceased.
FSA is not responsible for advising persons in obtaining legal
advice on how to obtain program benefits that may be due to a
participant who has died, disappeared or who has been declared
More information can be found online at
USDA Resumes Continuous Conservation Reserve Program
One-Year Extension Available to Holders of Many Expiring
Contracts through Continuous Signup
As part of a 33-year effort to protect sensitive lands and
improve water quality and wildlife habitat on private lands, the
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will resume accepting
applications for the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program
(CRP). Eligible farmers, ranchers, and private landowners can
sign up at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office between
June 4 and Aug. 17, 2018.
FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the CRP
continuous signup (excluding applications for the Conservation
Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and CRP grasslands). This
pause allowed USDA to review available acres and avoid exceeding
the 24 million-acre CRP cap set by the 2014 Farm Bill. New
limited practice availability and short sign up period helps
ensure that landowners with the most sensitive acreage will
enroll in the program and avoid unintended competition with new
and beginning farmers seeking leases. CRP enrollment currently
is about 22.7 million acres.
Additionally, FSA established new ranking criteria for CRP
Grasslands. To guarantee all CRP grasslands offers are treated
equally, applicants who previously applied will be asked to
reapply using the new ranking criteria. Producers with pending
applications will receive a letter providing the options.
Producers wanting to apply for the CRP continuous signup or CRP
grasslands should contact their USDA service center. To locate
your local FSA office, visit https://www.farmers.gov. More
information on CRP can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.
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Illinois Farm Service Agency
3500 Wabash Ave.
Springfield, IL 62702
State Executive Director:
William J. Graff
To find contact information for your local office go to