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Resources are available for beginning farmers

By Diana Strouse • Apr 9, 2017 at 7:27 PM

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a website to connect farm entrepreneurs with programs, services and resources for anyone interested in getting started into farming at www.usda.gov/newfarmers.

The site features advice and guidance on everything a new farm business owner needs to know, from writing a business plan, to obtaining a loan to grow their business, to filing taxes as a new small business owner, starting or expanding an operation, developing new markets, supporting more effective farming and conservation practices, and having access to relevant training and education opportunities.

By answering a series of questions about their operation, farmers can use the site’s Discovery Tool to build a personalized set of recommendations of USDA programs and services that may meet their needs. To learn more about this website, visit www.usda.gov/newfarmers.

Here are some agri-business notes from the Huron and Erie County Farm Service Agency:

Are you thinking about selling land that’s enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program?: We mention this topic often as the problems that could result from not knowing all the facts before you sell land under a CRP contract can be costly. We currently have a producer who did not contact our office before he sold his CRP area.

He has contacted the new owner, but if the purchaser refuses to succeed to his contract now that the sale is final, the original owner will be liable to refund everything he received under the contract from day one. If you are in the later years of a contract, the refund could be sizable. If you plan to sell farmland that’s enrolled in the CRP, our office would like to remind you about the terms and conditions of your contract.

Under the CRP program, the original contract (CRP-1) will need to be revised to reflect the change in participants and/or shares on the contract.

The new CRP participant(s) must sign a revised contract within 60 calendar days from the date of notification by the county committee or county executive director. If a revised contract isn’t signed within the 60 day time frame, the contract will be terminated with respect to the affected portions of such land and the original CRP participant will be held liable. If the new landowner elects not to continue the CRP contract, the contract will be terminated. When a contract is terminated, refund of the following payments plus interest is required from the original CRP participant: all annual rental payments, all cost share payments, signup incentive payments, and practice incentive payments.

Liquidated damages are also assessed. Refunds of payments will not be required in cases where the owner’s estate or the heirs do not succeed to the contract. There are other cases that do not require the refund of payments, when a participant loses control of the land, such as eminent domain. Be safe, not sorry! Contact the Huron/Erie County FSA office if you have any questions regarding the terms and conditions of your CRP contract.

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Farm storage facility loan program environmental evaluation requirements:  The FSA Farm Storage Facility Loan Program (FSFL) provides low-interest financing for producers to build or upgrade farm storage and handling facilities.

These loans must be approved by the local FSA state or county committee before any site preparation and/or construction can be started. All loan requests are subject to an environmental evaluation.

Accepting delivery of equipment, starting any site preparation, or construction before loan approval, may impede the successful completion of an environmental evaluation and may adversely affect loan eligibility.

The low-interest funds can be used to build or upgrade permanent facilities to store commodities. Eligible commodities include grains, oilseeds, pulse crops, hay, honey, renewable biomass commodities, fruits and vegetables. Qualified facilities include grain bins, hay barns and cold storage facilities for fruits and vegetables. Contact your local County FSA office for additional details or view the FSFL fact sheet for more information.

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A sincere thank you!: Your Huron/Erie FSA Office would like to thank all of the producers who have made appointments and enrolled their farms for 2017. The process is very quick and painless, and once you enroll, you are finished with us until certification. Give us a call today. We have convenient appointments open every day. Contracts are run and ready. All we need is you!


Diana Strouse is the county executive director for the Huron and Erie County Farm Service Agency. For more information, call the agency at 419-668-4113.

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