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Department of Agriculture

USDA Outlines Eligibility for 2019 Supplemental Coverage Option Regarding Elections for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2019 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced this week that producers who purchased or plan to purchase the 2019 Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) policy should report Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) election intentions to their crop insurance agent by March 15, 2019, or the acreage reporting date, whichever is later.

Producers have the option to elect either ARC or PLC through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to receive benefits. The 2018 Farm Bill allows producers to make an election in 2019, which covers the 2019 and 2020 crop years.

The Federal Crop Insurance Act prohibits producers from having SCO on farms where they elect ARC. Because of the timing of the Farm Bill, FSA’s ARC/PLC election period will not occur until after the SCO sales closing dates and acreage reporting dates.

Producers who purchased SCO policies with sales closing dates of Feb. 28, 2019, or earlier may cancel their SCO policy by March 15, 2019. This allows producers, particularly those who intend to elect ARC for all their acres, to no longer incur crop insurance costs for coverage for which they will not be eligible.

Producers with SCO coverage now have the option to file an ARC/PLC acreage intention report with their crop insurance agent by the later of the acreage reporting date or March 15, 2019. This report will adjust the acreage report by specifying the intended ARC or PLC election by FSA Farm Number. The number of eligible acres on farms with an intention of PLC will be the number of acres insured for SCO regardless of any actual elections made with FSA. If a producer does not file an ARC/PLC acreage intention report, SCO will cover all acres as though the producer elected PLC.

The existing penalties for misreporting eligible acreage on the SCO endorsement will not apply in 2019.

Additional details about SCO can be found at www.rma.usda.gov.

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NASS Administrator visits Virginia to speak about upcoming Census of Ag

RICHMOND, Va. – United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service Administrator Hubert Hamer will speak about the upcoming Census of Agriculture on Nov. 11, at 7:30 a.m. at the Virginia State University Small Farm Family Conference at the Holiday Inn, Charlottesville in Ruckersville, Virginia.

Conducted once every five years, the 2017 Census of Agriculture will be mailed out to every farmer in the United States in a few weeks. It is a complete count of U.S. farms and the people who operate them. The Census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation.

Data from the Census helps to inform smart decision making to make life more efficient for farmers. For example, data from the Census help:

  • Shape programs and initiatives that benefit young and beginning farmers;
  • Expand access to resources that help women, veteran and minority farmers;
  • And help farmers diversify into new markets, including local and regional food systems, specialty crops and organic production.

Land-grant universities like Virginia State University (VSU) and Cooperative Extension programs like VSU's Small Farm Outreach Program also use the data to see where small farms are located in the state and build programs to help those farmers grow and diversify their operations.

Representatives of the media are encouraged to attend.  Administrator Hamer and VSU Small Farm Outreach Program Director William Crutchfield will be available for interviews following the breakfast Saturday morning.  There’s an additional opportunity in advance of the conference on Nov. 3, 10 a.m. to noon, for media to tour VSU’s research and educational farm for pictures, video and a deeper understanding of how census data translates into increased programs and services to farmers.

WHO:             USDA NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer, William Crutchfield, Director, VSU’s Small Farm Outreach Program

WHAT:           NASS Administrator speaking at VSU Small Farm Family Conference

WHEN:           Saturday, November 11, 2017 at 7:30 a.m.

WHERE:        Holiday Inn, Charlottesville, 5920 Seminole Trail, Ruckersville, Virginia

Saturday will begin with breakfast with Hubert Hamer, then later, lunch with Jason Brown, a former NFL player turned farmer. When Brown signed with the St. Louis Rams, he was the NFL’s highest-paid center. Five years later, he left the NFL and became a farmer.

The conference workshops will cover the practical and business aspects of farming. There will be workshops on: agroforestry, agritourism, aquaculture, cut flowers, drones, equipment for small farms, farm to table, grapes/vineyard production, grazing, growing grain for microbreweries, industrial hemp, irrigation, mushroom growing, pest management, pesticides and herbicides, soil health, sweet potato production, urban agriculture, estate planning/farm transition, how to apply for USDA FSA loans, grant writing, marketing, social media outreach for your farm business and more. Visit the conference pagefor more details.

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USDA Provides Greater Protection for Fruit, Vegetable and Other Specialty Crop Growers

Free Basic Coverage Plans and Premium Discounts Available for New, Underserved and Limited Income Farmers

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that greater protection is now available from the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for crops that traditionally have been ineligible for federal crop insurance. The new options, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, provide greater coverage for losses when natural disasters affect specialty crops such as vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, floriculture, ornamental nursery, aquaculture, turf grass, ginseng, honey, syrup, and energy crops.

“These new protections will help ensure that farm families growing crops for food, fiber or livestock consumption will be better able to withstand losses due to natural disasters,” said Vilsack. “For years, commodity crop farmers have had the ability to purchase insurance to keep their crops protected, and it only makes sense that fruit and vegetable, and other specialty crop growers, should be able to purchase similar levels of protection. Ensuring these farmers can adequately protect themselves from factors beyond their control is also critical for consumers who enjoy these products and for communities whose economies depend on them.”

Previously, the program offered coverage at 55 percent of the average market price for crop losses that exceed 50 percent of expected production. Producers can now choose higher levels of coverage, up to 65 percent of their expected production at 100 percent of the average market price.

The expanded protection will be especially helpful to beginning and traditionally underserved producers, as well as farmers with limited resources, who will receive fee waivers and premium reductions for expanded coverage. More crops are now eligible for the program, including expanded aquaculture production practices, and sweet and biomass sorghum. For the first time, a range of crops used to produce bioenergy will be eligible as well. 

“If America is to remain food secure and continue exporting food to the world, we need to do everything we can to help new farmers get started and succeed in agriculture,” Vilsack said. “This program will help new and socially disadvantaged farmers affordably manage risk, making farming a much more attractive business proposition.”

To help producers learn more about the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program and how it can help them, USDA, in partnership with Michigan State University and the University of Illinois, created an online resource. The Web tool, available at www.fsa.usda.gov/nap, allows producers to determine whether their crops are eligible for coverage. It also gives them an opportunity to explore a variety of options and levels to determine the best protection level for their operation.

If the application deadline for an eligible crop has already passed, producers will have until Jan. 14, 2015, to choose expanded coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. To learn more, visit the Farm Service Agency (FSA) website at www.fsa.usda.gov/nap or contact your local FSA office.  The Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers the program, also wants to hear from producers and other interested stakeholders who may have suggestions or recommendations on the program. Written comments will be accepted until Feb. 13, 2015 and can be submitted through www.regulations.gov.

These new provisions under the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program were made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five 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 www.usda.gov/farmbill.

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Secretary Vilsack Expands Strikeforce Initiative to Address Rural Poverty In Four Additional States

PINEVILLE, Kentucky, January 17, 2014—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers today to announce the expansion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's StrikeForce Initiative into four additional states: Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia.  "The StrikeForce strategy of partnering public resources with local expertise is helping to grow rural economies and create jobs in persistent poverty communities," said Vilsack. "This is a strategy that is working in rural America and I am pleased that we continue to build on these efforts to bring assistance to areas that need it the most."  Vilsack also noted that the StrikeForce strategy is having concrete results in communities across the country.


Since 2010, through StrikeForce, USDA has partnered with over 400 community organizations, businesses, foundations, universities and other groups to support 80,300 projects and ushered more than $9.7 billion in investments into rural America, including:
The Farm Service Agency saw a 14 percent increase in the total direct farm loan applications received in StrikeForce areas since the beginning of the initiative.

  • In fiscal year (FY) 2013, the Farm Service Agency provided nearly $9.3 million to fund microloans in StrikeForce areas. Approximately 84 percent of the loans were provided to socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers.
  • Last year, the number of landowners applying for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs in StrikeForce areas increased by 82 percent over the previous year.
     
  • In FY 2013, the Rural Housing Community Facilities Program obligated a total of $68 million to fund hospitals, libraries and other projects in StrikeForce areas—a 4.5 percent increase over 2012.
     
  • Between 2012 and 2013, the Food and Nutrition Service doubled the redemption of SNAP benefits at farmers markets from $2 million to over $4 million in StrikeForce states—a more than 100 percent increase.
     
  • In 2012, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service increased the number of children in StrikeForce states receiving free or reduced price school breakfasts by 7.4 percent.
     

"Through StrikeForce, we are able to reach people in new ways and bring resources to them directly," said Vilsack. "We are learning better ways to help communities leverage their assets and bring opportunity to their residents."  Today's expansion brings StrikeForce attention to more than 700 rural counties, parishes, boroughs, tribal reservations, and Colonias in 20 states, including Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.


USDA identifies census tracts with over 20 percent poverty (according to American Community Survey data) to identify sub-county pockets of poverty. As areas of persistent poverty are identified, USDA staff work with state, local and community officials to increase awareness of USDA programs and help build program participation through intensive community outreach.  StrikeForce is part of the Administration's commitment to addressing persistent poverty across America. Last week, President Obama announced the first five of twenty Promise Zones, including one in southeastern Kentucky, that target federal resources to cities, rural areas and Tribal communities suffering the worst poverty.


Visit www.usda.gov/StrikeForce to learn more.
 

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