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Cover crop guidelines released

By Diana Strouse • May 6, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Recently the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Risk Management Agency (RMA) worked together to develop consistent, simple and a flexible policy for cover crop practices. The termination and reporting guidelines were updated for cover crops.

Termination:

The cover crop termination guidelines provide the timeline for terminating cover crops, are based on zones and apply to non-irrigated cropland. To view the zones and additional guidelines visit https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/landuse/crops/ and click “Cover Crop Termination Guidelines.”

Reporting:

The intended use of cover only will be used to report cover crops. This includes crops that were terminated by tillage and reported with an intended use code of green manure. An FSA policy change will allow cover crops to be hayed and grazed. Program eligibility for the cover crop that is being hayed or grazed will be determined by each specific program.

If the crop reported as cover only is harvested for any use other than forage or grazing and is not terminated properly, then that crop will no longer be considered a cover crop. Crops reported with an intended use of cover only will not count toward the total cropland on the farm. In these situations a subsequent crop will be reported to account for all cropland on the farm. Cover crops include grasses, legumes and forbs, for seasonal cover and other conservation purposes. Cover crops are primarily used for erosion control, soil health Improvement, and water quality improvement. The cover crop may be terminated by natural causes, such as frost, or intentionally terminated through chemical application, crimping, rolling, tillage or cutting.

A cover crop managed and terminated according to NRCS Cover Crop Termination Guidelines is not considered a crop for crop insurance purposes. Cover crops can be planted: with no subsequent crop planted, before a subsequent crop, after prevented planting acreage, after a planted crop, or into a standing crop.

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

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Farm loan graduation reminder: FSA Direct Loans are considered a temporary source of credit that is available to producers who do not meet normal underwriting criteria for commercial banks. FSA periodically conducts Direct Loan graduation reviews to determine a borrower’s ability to graduate to commercial credit. If the borrower’s financial condition has improved to a point where they can refinance their debt with commercial credit, they will be asked to obtain other financing and partially or fully pay off their FSA debt. By the end of a producer’s operating cycle, the Agency will send a letter requesting a current balance sheet, actual financial performance and a projected farm budget.

The borrower has 30 days to return the required financial documents. This information will be used to evaluate the borrower’s potential for refinancing to commercial credit. If a borrower meets local underwriting criteria, FSA will send the borrower’s name, loan type, balance sheet and projected cash flow to commercial lenders. The borrower will be notified when loan information is sent to local lenders. If any lenders are interested in refinancing the borrower’s loan, FSA will send the borrower a letter with a list of lenders that are interested in refinancing the loan. The borrower must contact the lenders and complete an application for commercial credit within 30 calendar days.

If a commercial lender rejects the borrower, the borrower must obtain written evidence that specifies the reasons for rejection and submit to their local FSA farm loan office.

If a borrower fails to provide the requested financial information or to graduate, FSA will notify the borrower of noncompliance, FSA’s intent to accelerate the loan, and appeal rights.

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Guaranteed conservation loans: Guaranteed Conservation Loans are available for applicants to install a conservation practice. These funds may be used for any conservation activities included in a conservation plan or Forest Stewardship Management plan.

A copy of the conservation plan is required to complete the application. These loans are not limited to just family farmers. In some cases, applicants can operate non-eligible enterprises. Loan funds are issued by a participating commercial lender and guaranteed up to 80 percent by FSA or up to 90 percent for beginning and historically underserved producers.

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Dates to remember:

May 29 — Memorial Day Holiday. FSA offices closed.

May 31 — Deadline to apply for 2016 commodity loans and LDPs on feed grains, soybeans, pulse crops.

 

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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