The clock is ticking … March 16 is THE LAST day to make what is likely one of the most important business decisions you will make for your farming operation this year.

If you have not already visited your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office to make your election for either the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program and to sign your annual enrollment contract, you should call and make your appointment now.

Many of you are gearing up to head to the field for spring planting, but I cannot stress enough the importance of not letting this deadline get lost in the hectic day-to-day obligations of farm life. If you fail to enroll for 2019 ARC or PLC, you will be ineligible to receive a payment for the 2019 crop year.

ARC and PLC provide financial protections to farmers from substantial drops in crop prices or revenues and are vital economic safety nets for most American farms. These programs cover 20 commodities produced in the U.S.

FSA anticipates more than 1.7 million producers will enroll in ARC or PLC — that’s a lot of producers to assist in a short period of time. As of Feb. 10, FSA records in Kentucky show 10,600 farms out of an expected 40,000 farms have completed ARC or PLC enrollment for the 2019 crop year.

Want to maximize your time visiting with FSA? Inquire about deadlines and options for also enrolling in 2020 ARC or PLC and updating PLC payment yields. Our staff will help you make the most out of your visit or set you up with a future appointment to help check FSA programs off your lengthy “to do” list.

If you’re still unsure about the choice of ARC or PLC, we offer online decision tools to help you determine the best program election for your farming operation. To access these tools, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.

Call FSA today for an appointment. To locate your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-center-locator.

We know that time is money… so make the time to avoid losing the money.

USDA Reminds Producers of Feb. 28 Deadline for Conservation Reserve Program General SignupThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds agricultural producers interested in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) 2020 general signup to enroll by Feb. 28. This signup is available to farmers and private landowners who are either enrolling for the first time or re-enrolling for another 10- to 15-year term.

Farmers and ranchers who enroll in CRP receive yearly rental payments for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”), which can control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands.

CRP has 22 million acres enrolled, but the 2018 Farm Bill lifted the cap to 27 million acres.

Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the U.S. It was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing many conservation and economic benefits. Marking its 35th anniversary in 2020, CRP has had many successes, including:

• Preventing more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding, enough soil to fill 600 million dump trucks;

• Reducing nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to annually tilled cropland by 95 and 85% respectively;

• Sequestering an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road;

• Creating more than 3 million acres of restored wetlands while protecting more than 175,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, enough to go around the world 7 times; and

• Benefiting bees and other pollinators and increased populations of ducks, pheasants, turkey, bobwhite quail, prairie chickens, grasshopper sparrows and many other birds.

The CRP continuous signup is ongoing, which enables producers to enroll for certain practices. FSA plans to open the Soil Health and Income Protection Program, a CRP pilot program, in early 2020, and the 2020 CRP Grasslands signup runs from March 16 to May 15.

To enroll in CRP, contact your local FSA county office or visit fsa.usda.gov/crp. To locate your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-locator.

Holiday Closing

The Owensboro USDA Service Center will be closed Feb. 17 (Monday) in observance of the federal holiday, President’s Day.

Don Wilkins, dwilkins @messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

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