July 2020 FSA Newsletter

Send a link to a friend  Share

[August 05, 2020]     Message from the State Director - Hello from the State Directors Desk. What a spring and start of summer it has been on the FSA home front. We have just completed ARC/PLC signup and will complete acreage certifications by the middle of the month.

Moving forward there is still more work to be done. At the time of this article CFAP has generated 459,830 applications with 5.7 billion dollars being issued nationwide. Producers have until August 28, 2020 to file an application for CFAP. WHIP + is the other major workload in front of us. Earlier in the year excessive rain was added to help producers qualify for crop losses in 2019. Illinois had all 102 counties designated for disaster due to excessive rain, contact your local office for more details.

Due to COVID-19 our offices have been open with no face to face contact with our customers. We have started a 3-phase process to get back to normal. Currently most of the Illinois Offices are at Phase 1, others are at Phase 2, which allows producers to visit offices by appointment only. Contact your offices to see what phase they are in.

Through this difficult time our customers and employees have been remarkable in completing all the required tasks to deliver FSA programs. Thanks to all of you and BE SAFE.

William J. Graff
State Executive Director


USDA Issues First Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Payments

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has already approved more than $545 million in payments to producers who have applied for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. FSA began taking applications May 26, and the agency has received over 86,000 applications for this important relief program.

In the first six days of the application period, FSA has already made payments to more than 35,000 producers. Out of the gate, the top five states for CFAP payments are Illinois, Kansas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and South Dakota. USDA has released data on application progress and program payments and will release further updates each Monday at 2:00pm ET. The report can be viewed at farmers.gov/cfap.

FSA will accept applications through August 28, 2020. Through CFAP, USDA is making available $16 billion in financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline due to COVID-19 and face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities.

In order to do this, producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application. The remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date nationwide, as funds remain available.

Getting Help from FSA

New customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer general assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages the team at the FSA county office at their local USDA Service Center.

Producers can download the CFAP application and other eligibility forms from farmers.gov/cfap. Also, on that webpage, producers can find a payment calculator to help producers identify sales and inventory records needed to apply and calculate potential payments. Producers self-certify their records when applying for CFAP and that documentation is not submitted with the application. However, producers may be asked for their documentation to support the certification of eligible commodities, so producers should retain the information used to complete their application.

Those who use the online calculator tool will be able to print a pre-filled CFAP application, sign it, and submit it to your local FSA office either electronically or via hand delivery through an office drop box. Please contact your local office to determine the preferred delivery method for your local office. Team members at FSA county offices will be able to answer detailed questions and help producers apply quickly and efficiently through phone and online tools. Find contact information for your local office at farmers.gov/cfap.

Policy Clarifications

FSA has been working with stakeholder groups to provide further clarification to producers on the CFAP program. For example, the agency has published a matrix of common marketing contracts that impact eligibility for non-specialty crops and has provided a table that crosswalks common livestock terms to CFAP cattle categories. Updated information can be found in the frequently asked questions section of the CFAP website.

More Information

To find the latest information on CFAP, visit farmers.gov/CFAP or call 877-508-8364.

Guaranteed Farm Loans

FSA guaranteed loans allow lenders to provide agricultural credit to farmers who do not meet the lender's normal underwriting criteria. Farmers and ranchers apply for a guaranteed loan through a lender, and the lender arranges for the guarantee. FSA can guarantee up to 95 percent of the loss of principal and interest on a loan. Guaranteed loans can be used for both farm ownership and operating purposes.

Guaranteed farm ownership loans can be used to purchase farmland, construct or repair buildings, develop farmland to promote soil and water conservation or to refinance debt.

Guaranteed operating loans can be used to purchase livestock, farm equipment, feed, seed, fuel, farm chemicals, insurance and other operating expenses.

FSA can guarantee farm ownership and operating loans up to $1,776,000. Repayment terms vary depending on the type of loan, collateral and the producer's ability to repay the loan. Operating loans are normally repaid within seven years and farm ownership loans are not to exceed 40 years.

Please contact your lender or local FSA farm loan office for more information on guaranteed loans.

Nominations Open for the 2020 County Committee Elections

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) encourages all farmers, ranchers, and FSA program participants to take part in the Illinois County Committee election nomination process.

FSA’s county committees are a critical component of the day-to-day operations of FSA and allow grassroots input and local administration of federal farm programs.

Committees are comprised of locally elected agricultural producers responsible for the fair and equitable administration of FSA farm programs in their counties. Committee members are accountable to the Secretary of Agriculture. If elected, members become part of a local decision making and farm program delivery process.

A county committee is composed of three elected members from local administrative areas (LAA). Each member serves a three-year term. One-third of the seats on these committees are open for election each year.

County committees may have an appointed advisor to further represent the local interests of underserved farmers and ranchers. Underserved producers are beginning, women and other minority farmers and ranchers and landowners and/or operators who have limited resources.

All nomination forms for the 2020 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by Aug. 1, 2020 (or next business day). For more information on FSA county committee elections and appointments, refer to the FSA fact sheet: Eligibility to Vote and Hold Office as a COC Member available online at: fsa.usda.gov/elections.

One-Time PLC Yield Updates – Deadline September 30

Farm owners have a one-time opportunity to update PLC yields of covered commodities on the farm, regardless of Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC)program election. The deadline to request a PLC yield update is September 30, 2020.

The updated yield will be equal to 90 percent of the average yield per planted acre in crop years 2013-2017 (excluding any year where the applicable covered commodity was not planted), subject to the ratio obtained by dividing the 2008-2012 average national yield by the 2013-2017 average national yield for the covered commodity. If the reported yield in any year is less than 75 percent of the 2013-2017 average county yield, then the yield will be substituted with 75 percent of the county average yield.

The chart below provides the ratio obtained by dividing the 2008-2012 average national yield by the 2013-2017 average national yield for each covered commodity.

Covered Commodity National Yield Factor
Barley 0.9437
Canola 0.9643
Chickpeas, Large 1
Chickpeas, Small 0.976
Corn 0.9
Crambe 1
Flaxseed 1
Grain Sorghum 0.9077
Lentils 1
Mustard Seed 0.946
Oats 0.9524
Peanuts 0.9273
Peas, Dry 0.9988
Rapeseed 1
Rice, Long 0.933
Rice, Medium 0.9887
Rice, Temp Japonica 0.9591
Safflower 1
Seed Cotton 0.9
Sesame Seed 0.9673
Soybeans 0.9
Sunflower Seed 0.9396
Wheat 0.9545

It is the owner’s choice whether to update or keep existing PLC yields. If a yield update is not made, then no action is required to maintain the existing PLC yield. An existing or updated PLC yield will be maintained and effective for crop years 2020 through 2023 (life of the 2018 Farm Bill).

PLC yields may be updated on a covered commodity-by-covered commodity basis using FSA form CCC-867.

For more information, reference resources and decision tools, visit farmers.gov/arc-plc. Contact your local Farm Service Agency Office for assistance – farmers.gov/service-center-locator.

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 $50,000 can be secured by a promissory note/security agreement and loans between $50,000 and $100,000 may require additional security. 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.

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.usda.gov.

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Continuous Signup.

CRP is a voluntary program that contracts with agricultural producers so that environmentally sensitive agricultural land is devoted to conservation benefits. CRP participants establish long-term, resource-conserving vegetative species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”), to control soil erosion, improve the water quality and enhance wildlife habitat. In return, FSA provides participants with annual rental payments and cost-share assistance. Continuous signup enrollment contracts are 10 to 15 years in duration.

Under continuous CRP signup, environmentally sensitive land devoted to certain conservation practices can be enrolled in CRP at any time. Offers are automatically accepted provided the land and producer meet certain eligibility requirements and the enrollment levels do not exceed the statutory cap.

Unlike CRP enrollments under general CRP signups or CRP Grasslands, offers for continuous enrollment are not subject to competitive bidding during specific periods.

The deadline for producers to submit signed SU53 offers (CRP-2C and CRP-1) to their local FSA office is August 21, 2020.

For more information, including a list of acceptable practices, visit fsa.usda.gov/crp.

May Margin Triggers Dairy Margin Coverage Program Payment

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced that the May 2020 income over feed cost margin was $5.37 per hundredweight (cwt.), triggering the third payment of 2020 for dairy producers who purchased the appropriate level of coverage under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

To date, FSA has issued more than $176 million in program benefits to dairy producers who purchased DMC coverage for 2020.

Authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, DMC is a voluntary risk management program that offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed price (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. Over 13,000 operations enrolled in the program for the 2020 calendar year.

Although DMC enrollment for 2020 coverage has closed, signup for 2021 coverage will begin October 13 and will run through December 11, 2020.

All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some that are open to visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors may also be required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. Our program delivery staff will be in the office, and they will be working with our producers in office, by phone, and using online tools. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.

For more information, visit farmers.gov DMC webpage or contact your local USDA Service Center. To locate your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-center-locator.

CLEAR30 the first USDA program to offer 30-year Signup

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will open signup this summer for CLEAR30, a new pilot program that offers farmers and landowners an opportunity to enroll in a 30-year Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contract. This pilot is available to farmers and landowners with expiring water-quality practice CRP contracts in the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay regions. The program signup period is July 6 to Aug. 21, 2020.

The pilot is available in Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Eligible producers must have expiring Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers (CLEAR) initiative contracts, including continuous CRP Cropland contracts with water-quality practices or marginal pasturelands CRP contracts devoted to riparian buffers, wildlife habitat buffers or wetland buffers.

[to top of second column]

The longer contracts will help ensure that practices remain in place for 30 years, which will help reduce sediment and nutrient runoff and help prevent algal blooms. Traditional CRP contracts run from 10 to 15 years.

Annual rental payment for landowners who enroll in CLEAR30 will be equal to the current Continuous CRP annual payment rate plus an inflationary adjustment of 27.5 percent, since CLEAR30 contracts will be for 30 years – much longer than the 10 to 15-year contracts for Continuous CRP offers.

Another unique program feature is that FSA will help producers maintain CLEAR30 contract acreage.

USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only, and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone and using online tools whenever possible. Anyone wishing to conduct business with the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other Service Center agency is required to call to schedule a phone appointment. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.

USDA Announces Improvements to Forage Seeding and Forage Production Crop Insurance Provisions for the 2021 Crop Year

USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced changes to the Forage Seeding and Forage Production crop insurance programs starting with the 2021 crop year. Changes include expanding coverage to new regions and counties, expanding coverage to fall-planted forage and changing the method for loss adjustment.

Specifically, the changes:

  • Establish coverage of forage seeding for producers in 186 more counties.

  • Expand coverage to fall-planted forage and align forage seeding cancellation and termination dates with the dates for other fall planted crops in each state.

  • Revise loss-adjustment procedures to rely upon the number of live alfalfa stems rather than the number of live plants for making loss determinations for forage containing more than 60 percent alfalfa.

These changes are further described in a final rule, now available on the Federal Register at regulations.gov. Interested parties are invited to comment on the rule for 60 days.

These changes take effect for crop year 2021 with policies that have a contract change date of April 30, 2020, or later. Sales closing dates follow the contract change date and vary across the country. You should contact your crop insurance agent for their specific sales closing date. Crop years reflect the normal growing season and are identified by the year of harvest.

Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available online using the RMA Agent Locator. Learn more about crop insurance and the modern farm safety net at rma.usda.gov.

New NRCS Video: Building a Constructed Wetland

Agriculture and water quality. Farmers hear a lot about the impacts production agriculture practices can have on water and all the natural resources, aquatic life, and wildlife dependent on water. Many farmers work hard to use techniques and management tactics that effectively reduce issues like soil erosion and runoff of excess nutrients from fields. For more than 80 years, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has worked alongside farmers to design and install conservation practices on the land that protect both soil and water.

One practice, called a Constructed Wetland, has been around for a long time. It’s a tried and true technology for treating water. You can learn all the details, see the engineering standards and specifications for Conservation Practice Standard 656 on the NRCS website or you can watch this new short video and learn all about it. The video is the latest in the Illinois NRCS Conservation Under Construction video series, and is appropriately entitled “Building a Constructed Wetland.”

Last summer, NRCS worked with Illinois Central College, The Wetlands Initiative, and the Illinois Land Improvement Contractors Association (ILICA) to plan, design, and install a constructed wetland. That wetland—which you’ll see being built in the video—is now part of the College’s system of water quality practices on their demonstration farm at the campus in East Peoria.

With the help of the Peoria County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), this video gives an inside look at what it takes to construct this conservation solution. In the last few years, this practice has become more popular as an effective way to remove nitrates and other nutrients from tile drainage water.

The video, along with the others in the series, are located on the Illinois Engineering Videos link of the Illinois NRCS engineering website, under “Conservation Practice Guidance.” To discuss if this solution will work on your farm, contact your local NRCS office and make an appointment today.

Transitioning Expiring CRP Land to Beginning, Veteran or Underserved Farmers and Ranchers

CRP contract holders are encouraged to transition their Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres to beginning, veteran or socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers through the Transition Incentives Program (TIP). TIP provides annual rental payments to the landowner or operator for up to two additional years after the CRP contract expires, provided the transition is not to a family member.

Enrollment in TIP is on a con­tinuous basis through 2023 or until the new statutory limit of $50 million under the 2018 Farm Bill is reached.

CRP contract holders no longer need to be a retired or retiring owner or operator to transition their land. TIP participants must agree to sell, have a contract to sell, or agree to lease long term (at least five years) land enrolled in an expiring CRP contract to a beginning, veteran, or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher who is not a family member.

Beginning, veteran or social disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and CRP participants may enroll in TIP beginning two years before the expiration date of the CRP contract. For example, if a CRP contract is scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2020, the land may be offered for en­rollment in TIP from October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2022. The TIP application must be submitted prior to completing the lease or sale of the affected lands.

New landowners or renters that return the land to production must use sustainable grazing or farming methods.

For more information on TIP, visit https://www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation.

Report Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) Losses

The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters including freeze, hail, excessive moisture, excessive wind or hurricanes, flood, excessive heat and qualifying drought (includes native grass for grazing), among others.

Eligible producers must have purchased NAP coverage for 2020 crops. A notice of loss must be filed the earlier of 15 days of the occurrence of the disaster or when losses become apparent or 15 days of the final harvest date.

Producers of hand-harvested crops and certain perishable crops must notify FSA within 72 hours of when a loss becomes apparent.

Eligible crops must be commercially produced agricultural commodities for which crop insurance is not available, including perennial grass forage and grazing crops, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, floriculture, ornamental nursery, aquaculture, turf grass, ginseng, honey, syrup, bioenergy, and industrial crops.

For more information on NAP, contact your local FSA office or visit fsa.usda.gov/nap.

Borrower Training

Borrower training is available for all Farm Service Agency customers. This training is required for all direct loan applicants, unless the applicant has a waiver issued by the agency.

Borrower training includes instruction in production and financial management. The purpose is to help the applicant develop and improve skills that are necessary to successfully operate a farm and build equity in the operation. It aims to help the producer become financially successful. Borrower training is provided, for a fee, by agency approved vendors. Contact your local FSA Farm Loan Manager for a list of approved vendors.

New Farmers.gov Feature Enables USDA Customers to Manage Conservation Activities Online
You can now manage your conservation activities and request assistance from USDA through a new feature on farmers.gov. These conservation features join several others already available through the farmers.gov portal, including the ability to view farm loan information. 

Using a desktop, tablet, or phone, the “Conservation” feature enables you to:

  • View, download and e-sign documents;

  • Request conservation assistance;

  • Reference technical terms and submit questions;

  • Access information on current and past conservation practices; and

  • View detailed information on all previous and ongoing contracts, including the amount of planned and received cost-share assistance.  Currently, access is only available for customers doing business as individuals. Entities – such as an LLC or Trust – can’t access the portal at this time, but access is being planned. The new feature includes the most popular aspects from the NRCS Conservation Client Gateway (CCG), while providing enhanced functionality and an improved user experience. CCG is an NRCS portal for producers, but now these functionalities are being moved to farmers.gov to create one place to do business with NRCS, Farm Service Agency, and other USDA agencies. CCG will be actively maintained and supported until all its core features and functionalities have been migrated to farmers. gov later this year.

How to Access


  1. To access your conservation information, visit farmers.gov and sign in to the site’s authenticated portal, available on the menu at the top right of the site.

  2. To access, you will need a Level 2 USDA eAuthentication account.  How to Create an eAuth Login to Access Your Farmers.gov Account

  3. How to Create an eAuth Login to Access Your Farmers.gov Account

  4. Contact your local service center to confirm you have a USDA customer record with a primary email address. Use our Service Center Locator to find your local office.

  5. Go to the eAuth Account Registration page.

  6. Select "Customer" on the registration page.

  7. Enter your primary email address, which should match what USDA has on your customer record. You will receive an email from eAuthentication asking you to confirm your email address. Click the “Continue Registration” link in this email to continue the registration process. * Note: When you log in, your User ID will be your email address.

  8. Next, enter your name and set a password.

  9. Finally, you will need to verify your identity to access your farmers.gov account. You will be taken to a page where you will need to provide information such as your date of birth and residential addresAuthority for FSA and NRCS customers to work in the portal and act on behalf of their active power-of-attorney entitlements and their current authorities for business entities,s, and then you can either verify your identity online or in person at a Local Registration Authority (LRA).

  10. You’re ready to log in!

* Current CCG users can use their existing login and password to access the Conservation features on farmers.gov. 

USDA is building farmers.gov for farmers, by farmers. Future self-service features available through the farmers.gov portal include:

* Authority for FSA and NRCS customers to work in the portal and act on behalf of their active power-of-attorney entitlements and their current authorities for business entities,

* Updated e-sign capabilities to enhance the single and multi-signer functionalities and 

* A document management system that enables customers to download, upload and interact with their important conservation practice and contract documents.

For more information, contact your local District Conservationist to learn more about it or sign up. Visit this NRCS website for phone numbers and email information:   https://www.nrcs.usda.
gov/wps/portal/nrcs/il/contact/local/  or visit farmers.gov . 

Maintaining the Quality of Loaned Grain

Bins are ideally designed to hold a level volume of grain. When bins are overfilled and grain is heaped up, airflow is hindered and the chance of spoilage increases.

Producers who take out marketing assistance loans and use the farm-stored grain as collateral should remember that they are responsible for maintaining the quality of the grain through the term of the loan.

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 and a violation of the terms and conditions of the Note and Security Agreement. 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. If you have questions concerning the movement of grain under loan, please contact your local county FSA office.



Illinois Farm Service Agency
3500 Wabash Ave.
Springfield, Illinois 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:
Vicki Donaldson
John Gerhke
Ray Gvillo-Acting
Randy Tillman

To find contact information for your local office go to www.fsa.usda.gov/il

Check out https://www.farmers.gov/ for information about ALL the programs available through your local USDA Service Center FSA and NRCS offices, including county office locations, agriculture statistics, loan interest rates and much more!

Learn about Risk Management Agency's crop insurance programs at https://cropinsurance101.org/


Back to top