Sign-up deadline is June 1 for two crop payment programs
WILLMAR -- Local Farm Service Agency offices continue to accept requests to participate in either the Direct and Counter-cyclical Program or the Average Crop Revenue Election program. Application requests will continue to be accepted through the sign-up deadline of June 1.
Under the Direct and Counter-cyclical Program, participants can qualify for two types of payments, both of which are computed using a farm's base acres and payment yields.
The first type of payment is called a direct payment. The direct payment rates are specified in the 2008 farm bill and are earned without regard to market prices. For that reason, the direct payment is sometimes referred to as the "guaranteed" payment.
The per bushel direct payment rates are as follows: barley - $0.24; corn - $0.28; oats - $0.024; soybeans - $0.44; and wheat - $0.52.
The second type of payment is a counter-cyclical payment. Unlike the direct payments, counter-cyclical payments are not guaranteed since the payment rates will vary depending on market prices. Therefore, counter-cyclical payments can be sizable during years when prices are low, with little or no payment when prices are high.
Program provisions also allow participants to request and receive a portion of their direct payment in advance. During sign-up, eligible producers may request an advance payment equal to 22 percent of the total direct payment for each commodity associated with the farm. Local Farm Service Agency offices will issue the advance direct payment as soon as practical after enrollment.
Funding available to assist organic producers
The 2011 fiscal year marks the third year of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's organic initiative. This year, up to $50 million is available to help producers plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns in ways that are consistent with organic production.
Examples of eligible conservation practices might include planting cover crops, establishing integrated pest management plans, constructing seasonal high tunnels, or implementing nutrient management systems consistent with organic certification standards.
Eligible producers include those certified through USDA's National Organic Program; those transitioning to certified organic production; and those who meet organic standards but are exempt from certification because their gross annual sales are less than $5,000.
Organic initiative funding is provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, a voluntary conservation program administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Under the organic initiative, eligible producers can receive financial payments and technical assistance to implement conservation measures that comply with approved organic production practices.
Payments to organic operations are limited to $20,000 per year, with a maximum total of $80,000 over six years.
While applications are accepted on a continuous basis, the cutoff date for this application period is May 20.
Minnesota applies for TB-free status
Officials from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health have announced that the state of Minnesota has submitted an application for statewide bovine tuberculosis-free status. The request comes less than six years after the discovery of an infected beef herd in July 2005.
It is anticipated that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will approve the application by late summer or early fall of this year.
In recent years, status downgrades have resulted in increased testing and movement requirements for Minnesota cattle, both in-state and out. With USDA approval, the status upgrade would bring relief to most Minnesota cattle producers.
The Department of Natural Resources will continue management of deer populations and surveillance of hunter harvested wild deer in the bovine TB area until it is demonstrated that the disease has been eliminated.
Pending final culture results, 2010 will be the first calendar year since 2005 with no confirmed bovine TB positive detection in wild deer.
Producers in the current Modified Accredited Advanced Zone would no longer be required to obtain permits or test animals prior to moving cattle.
While testing requirements will be reduced for some, livestock producers should call the state of destination prior to interstate movement of animals. Other states may require additional testing, permits, or official identification of livestock.
More than 733,000 cattle have been tested for TB in Minnesota since 2005.
April corn and soybean prices increase, milk prices decline
According to the Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service, prices received by Minnesota corn farmers during April averaged $6.10 per bushel, up 85 cents from the average price for March.
April soybean prices also increased to an average of $12.70 per bushel, up 20 cents from the previous month.
Minnesota milk prices during April averaged $19.10 per hundredweight, down $1.80 from the March average.
Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.