MA FSA November Newsletter

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MA FSA November Newsletter  -  November 15, 2022

Message from MA FSA State Executive Director


As the harvest season winds down, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is continuing to administer various programs throughout Massachusetts.  The drought that occurred during the high point of the growing season has enabled our agency to administer various programs such as the Livestock Feed Program,  Emergency Relief Program as well issuing payments under the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).  These programs, along with the debt relief program under the Inflation Reduction Act, has provided many of our loan borrowers relief in coping with this year’s drought towards their annual loan installments.

Now is the ideal time for producers to start assessing their loan needs for the 2023 crop year.  The Farm Service Agency can provide operating and capital type loans to meet your needs.  Recently, our agency has developed a new Loan Assistance Tool that can be accessed here.  This tool will quickly navigate you through our loan programs to assist you in determining which loan may best suit your needs for the upcoming growing season.

As the end of the year quickly approaches, I am looking forward to December, which means County Committee Election time.  Ballots are currently being accepted and are due in the county offices by December 5, 2022.  I have always enjoyed working with the county committee members throughout the state during my career.  The county committee plays an important and vital role for our agency.  The committees act on various program applications and provide our county office staff with valuable information and insight for our programs.  If you are interested in becoming a committee member or would like to nominate someone in your county, please inquire with your local FSA County Office.

Also, I'm looking forward to a few events in December as well.  First will be the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Annual Meeting located in Taunton, MA on December 1, 2022 and the New England Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference on December 13-15, 2022 in Manchester, NH.  FSA will have a booth at each of these events.  Please stop by and visit our booths; it is always a great opportunity to meet with producers and learn more about the FSA programs.  I hope to see you there.

Finally, as we approach Thanksgiving please be sure to spend time with family and enjoy all of the great foods that Massachusetts farmers bring to the table for this holiday season.  Happy Thanksgiving.

- SED Dan Smiarowski

Elections for the 2022 County Committees

2022 COC Elections

Voting is now open for the USDA’s Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) County Committees throughout the State.

It is important that every eligible producer participate in these elections because FSA county committees are a link between the agricultural community and the USDA.

County committee members are a critical component of FSA operations. Committees should be comprised of members who reflect the diversity of producers involved in production agriculture in their local counties. This means that producers representing underserved groups or communities should be on the committee to speak on behalf of their constituency.

Underserved producers are beginning, women and other minority farmers and ranchers and landowners and/or operators who have limited resources. Other minority groups including Native American and Alaska Natives; persons under the poverty level, and persons that have disabilities are also considered underserved.

County committee election ballots were mailed to eligible voters beginning Nov. 7, 2022. The last day to return completed ballots to your local County USDA Service Center is December 5, 2022.

For more information on eligibility to serve on FSA county committees, visit:

USDA Launches Loan Assistance Tool to Enhance Equity and Customer Service

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched a new online tool to help farmers and ranchers better navigate the farm loan application process. This uniform application process will help to ensure all farm loan applicants receive equal support and have a consistent customer experience with USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) regardless of their individual circumstances.  

USDA experiences a high rate of incomplete or withdrawn applications, particularly among underserved customers, due in part to a challenging and lengthy paper-based application process. The Loan Assistance Tool is available 24/7 and gives customers an online step-by-step guide that supplements the support they receive when working in person with a USDA employee, providing materials that may help an applicant prepare their loan application in one tool. 

Farmers can access the Loan Assistance Tool by visiting  and clicking the ‘Get Started’ button. From here they can follow the prompts to complete the Eligibility Self-Assessment and start the farm loan journey. The tool is built to run on any modern browser like Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or the Safari browser, and is fully functional on mobile devices. It does not work in Internet Explorer.  

The Loan Assistance Tool is the first of multiple farm loan process improvements that will be available to USDA customers on in the future. Other improvements and tools that are anticipated to launch in 2023 include: 

  • A streamlined and simplified direct loan application, reduced from 29 pages to 13 pages. 
  • An interactive online direct loan application that gives customers a paperless and electronic signature option, along with the ability to attach supporting documents such as tax returns.  
  • An online direct loan repayment feature that relieves borrowers from the necessity of calling, mailing, or visiting a local Service Center to pay a loan installment. 


USDA provides access to credit to approximately 115,000 producers who cannot obtain sufficient commercial credit through direct and guaranteed farm loans. With the funds and direction Congress provided in Section 22006 of the Inflation Reduction Act, USDA is taking action to immediately provide relief to qualifying distressed borrowers whose operations are at financial risk while working on making transformational changes to loan servicing so that borrowers are provided the flexibility and opportunities needed to address the inherent risks and unpredictability associated with agricultural operations. 

USDA Releases Nationwide Farmer, Rancher and Forest Manager Prospective Customer Survey

USDA Customer Survey Graphic

USDA needs your vital feedback to make programs more accessible, equitable and easier to use.

Are you a farmer, rancher or forest manager? Please share your vital feedback with USDA by taking a nationwide survey at! The survey is completely anonymous, will take about 10 minutes to complete, is available in multiple languages, and will be open until March 31, 2023. The survey focuses on gathering feedback about the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency.

All farmers, ranchers and forest managers are encouraged to take the survey. USDA would especially like to hear from prospective customers: those who don’t know about USDA or have yet to work with USDA, and those who were unable to participate in the past. The survey will help USDA enhance support, improve programs and services, increase access, and advance equity for new and existing customers.

Dairy Producers Can Now Enroll for 2023 Signup for Dairy Margin Coverage 

Dairy Barn Adobe Stock NRCS Licensed

Dairy producers can now enroll for 2023 coverage through the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program, an important safety net program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that helps producers manage changes in milk and feed prices. Last year, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) took steps to improve coverage, especially for small- and mid-sized dairies, including offering a new Supplemental DMC program and updating its feed cost formula to better address retroactive, current and future feed costs. These changes continue to support producers through this year’s signup, which ends December 9, 2022

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.  

So far in 2022, DMC payments to more than 17,000 dairy operations have triggered for August for more than $47.9 million. According to DMC margin projections, an indemnity payment is projected for September as well. At $0.15 per hundredweight for $9.50 coverage, risk coverage through DMC is a relatively inexpensive investment. 

DMC offers different levels of coverage, even an option that is free to producers, aside from a $100 administrative fee. Limited resource, beginning, socially disadvantaged or a military veteran farmers or ranchers are exempt from paying the administrative fee, if requested. To determine the appropriate level of DMC coverage for a specific dairy operation, producers can use the online dairy decision tool.  

Supplemental DMC 

Last year, USDA introduced Supplemental DMC, which provided $42.8 million in payments to better help small- and mid-sized dairy operations that had increased production over the years but were not able to enroll the additional production. Supplemental DMC is also available for 2023. 

Supplemental DMC coverage is applicable to calendar years 2021, 2022 and 2023.  Eligible dairy operations with less than 5 million pounds of established production history may enroll supplemental pounds.  

For producers who enrolled in Supplemental DMC in 2022, the supplemental coverage will automatically be added to the 2023 DMC contract that previously established a supplemental production history. 

Producers who did not enroll in Supplemental DMC in 2022 can do so now. Producers should complete their Supplemental DMC enrollment before enrolling in 2023 DMC. To enroll, producers will need to provide their 2019 actual milk marketings, which FSA uses to determine established production history. 

DMC Payments 

Additionally, FSA will continue to calculate DMC payments using updated feed and premium hay costs, making the program more reflective of actual dairy producer expenses.  These updated feed calculations use 100% premium alfalfa hay rather than 50%. The benefits of these feed cost adjustments were realized in the recent August 2022 margin payment as current high feed and premium hay costs were considered in payment calculations. 

More Information    

In addition to DMC, USDA offers other risk management tools for dairy producers, including the Dairy Revenue Protection (DRP) plan that protects against a decline in milk revenue (yield and price) and the Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) plan, which provides protection against the loss of the market value of livestock minus the feed costs. Both DRP and LGM livestock insurance policies are offered through the Risk Management Agency. Producers should contact their local crop insurance agent for more information. 

For more information on DMC, visit the DMC webpage or contact your local USDA Service Center.  

USDA Expands Local, Electronic Communication Options for Producers 


USDA is expanding our online communications platform that the Farm Service Agency (FSA) has used for years to now include local information from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Risk Management Agency (RMA), and other USDA agencies.

Subscribers will now receive important information on FSA, NRCS and RMA programs, eligibility requirements, deadlines, and more.

You’re currently subscribed to the MA FSA State newsletter and updates. News will continue to be sent via e-mail right to your home or farm office, or to your smartphone – allowing you to receive immediate notification of USDA news that applies to your agricultural operation. 

You can also subscribe to text alerts from the your personal County USDA Service Center by texting the word MA with your Service Center County's name to 372-669.

- Berkshire County producers, text: maberkshire

- Bristol/Norfolk/Suffolk County producers, text: mabristol

- Franklin County producers, text: mafranklin

- Hampshire/Hampden County producers, text mahampshire

- Middlesex/Essex County producers, text mamiddlesex

- Plymouth/Barnstable/Dukes/Nantucket producers, text: maplymouth

- Worcester County producers, text: maworcester

- MA State Updates, text: massachusetts

Standard text messaging rates apply. Contact your wireless carrier for details associated with your particular data plan. Participants may unsubscribe at any time. 

Subscription preferences, both email and text messaging, can be managed by visiting

For more information or for subscription assistance contact the your local County USDA Service Center.    

Massachusetts Farm Service Agency

MA FSA State Office
445 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002

Phone: 413-253-4500

Daniel Smiarowski
State Executive Director

Lori Carver
Executive Officer

Katie Bodzinski
District Director

Eric Bodzinski
Farm Loan Chief


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).