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Final 2009 payments being issued

WILLMAR -- During October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency will issue approximately $4 billion in final 2009 direct payments under the Direct and Counter-cyclical Program.

At the time of sign-up, program participants could request to receive up to 22 percent of the direct payment in advance. Since market prices have no effect on the direct payment rates, these payments are automatically considered earned or guaranteed by the 2008 farm bill. For that reason, most producers did request the advance direct payment.

Producers who requested and received the advance direct payment will receive a final payment rate equal to 78 percent of the total Direct and Counter-cyclical Program's direct payment rate, or $0.2184 per bushel for corn; $0.3432 for soybeans; $0.4056 for wheat; $0.1872 for barley; and $0.01872 for oats.

Any program participant that did not receive an advance direct payment will receive the entire direct payment rate of $0.28 per bushel for corn; $0.44 for soybeans; $0.52 for wheat; $0.24 for barley; and $0.024 for oats.

Producers and landowners who elected to participate in the Average Crop Revenue Election will see, as a requirement of participation, a 20 percent reduction in their final direct payment rates.

2008 farm bill extends 1985 wetland provisions

During the fall harvest, farmers may discover areas in fields where additional drainage is needed, or where an existing tile line is in need of repair.

While fall is a convenient time to complete those drainage improvement projects, farmers are reminded that the wetland compliance or "swampbusting" provisions initiated by the 1985 farm bill remain in effect under the 2008 farm bill.

Before starting any drainage activity, farmers and farmland owners should be sure that their drainage project will not make them ineligible for federal farm program benefits. To assure eligibility, farmers will want to review their proposed drainage or land clearing activity with a representative of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service before any earthwork begins.

In accordance with the 1985 farm bill, producers who after Dec. 25, 2005, convert a wetland to allow the production of an agricultural commodity are ineligible for federal farm program benefits until the converted wetland is mitigated or restored.

Farmers and farmland owners who would like the Natural Resources Conservation Service to review their drainage project will need to complete the proper form at their local USDA Service Center.

Over a period of 200 years, the lower 48 states have lost an estimated 53 percent of their original wetlands, and 87 percent of the wetland losses from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, were the result of conversions for agricultural purposes.

The wetland provisions of the 1985 farm bill have sharply reduced wetland conversions for agricultural purposes. Before 1985, approximately 235,000 acres of wetland were being converted every year. But during the years of 1992 through 1997, the amount of wetlands being converted for agricultural purposes was reduced to approximately 27,000 acres per year.

Minnesota turkey production down5 percent in 2009

Despite an expected decline in turkey production, Minnesota will continue to lead all states in turkey production in 2009.

According to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, Minnesota is expected to raise 45.5 million turkeys in 2009, down 5 percent from last year.

The number of turkeys raised in the United States during 2009 will total 250 million birds, down 8 percent from the 273 million raised in 2008.

The second-largest turkey producing state is North Carolina with 37.5 million birds. Other top turkey producing states include Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, California and Indiana.

Altogether, the top seven turkey producing states are expected to account for 71 percent of all the turkeys produced in the United States in 2009.

Minnesota spring wheat production down17 percent from 2008

According to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, spring wheat production in Minnesota is expected to total 83.7 million bushels, down 17 percent from 2008.

Spring wheat yields are expected to average 54 bushels per acre, down 2 bushels from last year.

Minnesota farmers harvested 1.55 million acres of spring wheat for grain, down 14 percent from 2008.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.