Florida FSA - April Newsletter

April 2015

NL Masthead

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.


Florida FSA Newsletter


Florida Farm Service Agency

4440 NW 25th Place, St 1
Gainesville, FL 32606

www.fsa.usda.gov/fl

State Committee:
Susanne Clemons
Martin Griswold
Donell Gwinn
Gayle King
James Peeples

Executive Director:
Rick Dantzler

Executive Officer:
Debby Folsom

Division Chiefs:
Administrative Officer
Mark Cotrell

Farm Program
Tom Hockert

Farm Loans (Acting)
Maria Santos

Please contact your local FSA Office for questions specific to your operation or county.

USDA Implements 2014 Farm Bill Provision to Limit Payments to Non-Farmers

Department Proposes Changes to "Actively Engaged" Rule

USDA proposed a rule to limit farm payments to non-farmers, consistent with requirements Congress mandated in the 2014 Farm Bill. The proposed rule limits farm payments to individuals who may be designated as farm managers but are not actively engaged in farm management. In the Farm Bill, Congress gave USDA the authority to address this loophole for joint ventures and general partnerships, while exempting family farm operations from being impacted by the new rule USDA ultimately implements.

The current definition of "actively engaged" for managers, established in 1987, is broad, allowing individuals with little to no contributions to critical farm management decisions to receive safety-net payments if they are classified as farm managers, and for some operations there were an unlimited number of managers that could receive payments.

The proposed rule seeks to close this loophole to the extent possible within the guidelines required by the 2014 Farm Bill. Under the proposed rule, non-family joint ventures and general partnerships must document that their managers are making significant contributions to the farming operation, defined as 500 hours of substantial management work per year, or 25 percent of the critical management time necessary for the success of the farming operation.  Many operations will be limited to only one manager who can receive a safety-net payment. Operators that can demonstrate they are large and complex could be allowed payments for up to three managers only if they can show all three are actively and substantially engaged in farm operations.  The changes specified in the rule would apply to payment eligibility for 2016 and subsequent crop years for Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Programs, loan deficiency payments and marketing loan gains realized via the Marketing Assistance Loan program.

As mandated by Congress, family farms will not be impacted. There will also be no change to existing rules for contributions to land, capital, equipment, or labor. Only non-family farm general partnerships or joint ventures comprised of more than one member will be impacted by this proposed rule.

Stakeholders interested in commenting on the proposed definition and changes are encouraged to provide written comments at www.regulations.gov by May 26, 2015. The proposed rule is available at http://go.usa.gov/3C6Kk.


USDA to Issue Disaster Assistance to Help Honeybee, Livestock and Farm-Raised Fish Producers

Farm Bill Program Offers Producers Relief for 2014 Losses in more than 40 States including Florida

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency today announced that nearly 2,700 applicants will begin receiving disaster assistance through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) for losses experienced from Oct. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30, 2014.

The program, re-authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides disaster relief to livestock, honeybee, and farm-raised fish producers not covered by other agricultural disaster assistance programs. Eligible losses may include excessive heat or winds, flooding, blizzards, hail, wildfires, lightning strikes, volcanic eruptions and diseases, or in the case of honeybees, losses due to colony collapse disorder. Beekeepers, most of whom suffered honeybee colony losses, represent more than half of ELAP recipients.

The farm bill caps ELAP disaster funding at $20 million per federal fiscal year and the Budget Control Act of 2011, passed by Congress, requires USDA to reduce payments by 7.3 percent, beginning Oct. 1, 2014.  To accommodate the number of requests for ELAP assistance, which exceeded 2014 funding, payments will be reduced to ensure that all eligible applicants receive a prorated share.

Today's announcement was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit http://www.usda.gov/farmbill.

To learn more about ELAP, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/elap.  For more information about USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) disaster assistance programs, visit disaster.usda.fsa.gov or contact your local FSA office at http://offices.usda.gov.