The month of November is a time to be thankful for the bountiful harvest many producers are experiencing, and a time to begin looking forward to the 2013 crop year.
USDA’s Farm Service Agency offices are working to finish the 2012 program year payments and are beginning to look toward the 2013 crop year and the changes the new Farm Bill may bring.
Signup for 2013 NAP (Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program) is currently under way at Farm Service Agency County Offices across the commonwealth.
NAP provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to natural disaster. It is available on commercially produced crops for which the catastrophic level of crop insurance is not available.
Producers who purchase NAP coverage are required to annually report their planted acreage and production of covered crops to FSA by the established deadlines for the crop.
Producers must purchase NAP for most spring planted crops by March 15 of each year, and beekeepers who elect to purchase NAP coverage for honey must do so by Dec. 1 for 2013 coverage.
Producers who are interested in purchasing NAP coverage should contact their local FSA office for information on application closing dates, and eligibility requirements.
The 2012 crop year provided some challenging weather for many producers in Pennsylvania, including the recent impacts from Hurricane Sandy.
With the current Farm Bill expired, and a new Farm Bill still being debated, many producers are wondering if they should report crop losses to FSA.
Even though the current crop disaster program does not cover crop losses from 2012, producers are encouraged to report all production losses to FSA.
This will ensure that as new programs are announced, eligible producers are informed of the programs and their eligibility is not adversely affected by missing a newly announced deadline to report losses.
Reporting losses as harvest is completed will ensure that accurate information is available as any new crop disaster programs are announced.
In addition to the programs producers are working with county offices on, the time of year is upon us for the 2012 county committee elections.
The election of responsible agricultural producers to FSA county committees is important to all farmers with large or small operations. It is crucial that every eligible producer take part in this election because county committees are a direct link between the farm community and the USDA.
Committee members are a critical component of the day-to-day operations of FSA. Committee members are local agricultural producers responsible for the fair and equitable administration of FSA farm programs in their counties. They help deliver FSA farm programs at the local level.
Farmers who serve on committees help decide the kind of programs their counties will offer. They work to make FSA agricultural programs serve the needs of local producers.
Each year, more than 150 members serve on county committees in 37 FSA service centers across Pennsylvania.
Agricultural producers of legal voting age may be eligible to vote if they participate or cooperate in any FSA program. Ballots were automatically mailed to all eligible voters on Nov. 5. Voting eligibility is not limited by the size of the farming operation or type of agricultural production.
I urge all eligible farmers and ranchers to have their idea and opinions expressed within the local agriculture community and FSA. Election ballots are due in the county offices by no later than Monday, Dec. 3.
To learn more about these and other FSA programs, visit your local FSA county office or our website at www.fsa.usda.gov/pa.
Bill Wehry is executive director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Pennsylvania.