With every New Year comes new challenges and new beginnings.
Whether it be more new programs; new changes to old programs or
bidding goodbye to numerous dedicated FSA retiring employees and
welcoming new employees aboard.
As we begin 2018, let us strive to achieve and maintain the
Strategic Goals that Secretary Purdue has set forth for One
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all Illinois producers,
FSA employees and their families!
William J. Graff
State Executive Director
Illinois FSA Office
USDA Announces Streamlined Guaranteed Loans and Additional
Lender Category for Small-Scale Operators
Options Help More Beginning, Small and Urban Producers Gain
Access to Credit
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the
availability of a streamlined version of USDA guaranteed loans,
which are tailored for smaller scale farms and urban producers.
The program, called EZ Guarantee Loans, uses a simplified
application process to help beginning, small, underserved and
family farmers and ranchers apply for loans of up to $100,000
from USDA-approved lenders to purchase farmland or finance
A new category of lenders will join traditional lenders, such as
banks and credit unions, in offering USDA EZ Guarantee Loans.
Microlenders, which include Community Development Financial
Institutions and Rural Rehabilitation Corporations, will be able
to offer their customers up to $50,000 of EZ Guaranteed Loans,
helping to reach urban areas and underserved producers. Banks,
credit unions and other traditional USDA-approved lenders, can
offer customers up to $100,000 to help with agricultural
EZ Guarantee Loans offer low interest rates and terms up to
seven years for financing operating expenses and 40 years for
financing the purchase of farm real estate. USDA-approved
lenders can issue these loans with the Farm Service Agency (FSA)
guaranteeing the loan up to 95 percent.
More information about the available types of FSA farm loans can
be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/farmloans or by contacting your
local FSA office.
USDA Microloans Help Farmers Purchase Farmland and Improve
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering farm
ownership microloans, creating a new financing avenue for
farmers to buy and improve property. These microloans are
especially helpful to beginning or underserved farmers, U.S.
veterans looking for a career in farming, and those who have
small and mid-sized farming operations.
The microloan program has been hugely successful, providing more
than 16,800 low-interest loans, totaling over $373 million to
producers across the country. Microloans have helped farmers and
ranchers with operating costs, such as feed, fertilizer, tools,
fencing, equipment, and living expenses since 2013. Seventy
percent of loans have gone to new farmers.
Now, microloans will be available to also help with farm land
and building purchases, and soil and water conservation
improvements. FSA designed the expanded program to simplify the
application process, expand eligibility requirements and
expedite smaller real estate loans to help farmers strengthen
their operations. Microloans provide up to $50,000 to qualified
producers, and can be issued to the applicant directly from the
USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA).
To learn more about the FSA microloan program visit
microloans, or contact your local FSA office.
Unauthorized Disposition of Grain
If loan grain has been disposed of through feeding, selling or
any other form of disposal without prior written authorization
from the county office staff, it is considered unauthorized
disposition. The financial penalties for unauthorized
dispositions are severe and a producer’s name will be placed on
a loan violation list for a two-year period. Always call before
you haul any grain under loan. If you have any questions
concerning the movement of grain under loan, please contact your
local county FSA Office.
Using the correct signature when doing business with FSA can
save time and prevent a delay in program benefits. The following
are FSA signature guidelines:
A married woman shall sign her given name: Mrs. Mary Doe, not
Mrs. John Doe
For a minor, FSA requires the minor's signature and one from an
Note, by signing the applicable document, the parent is liable
for actions of the minor and may be liable for refunds,
liquidated damages, etc.
When signing on one’s behalf the signature must agree with the
name typed or printed on the form, or be a variation that does
not cause the name and signature to be in disagreement. Example
- John W. Smith is on the form. The signature may be John W.
Smith or J.W. Smith or J. Smith. Or Mary J. Smith may be signed
as Mrs. Mary Joe Smith, M.J. Smith, Mary Smith, etc.
FAXED signatures will be accepted for certain forms and other
documents provided the acceptable program forms are approved for
FAXED signatures. Producers are responsible for the successful
transmission and receipt of FAXED information.
Examples of documents not approved for FAXED signatures
*Assignment of payment
*Joint payment authorization
*Acknowledgement of commodity certificate purchase
Spouses may sign documents on behalf of each other for FSA and
CCC programs in which either has an interest, unless written
notification denying a spouse this authority has been provided
to the county office.
Spouses shall not sign on behalf of each other as an authorized
signatory for partnerships, joint ventures, corporations or
other similar entities.
Any member of the general partnership can sign on behalf of the
general partnership and bind all members unless the Articles of
Partnership are more restrictive. Spouses may sign on behalf of
each other’s individual interest in a partnership, unless
notification denying a spouse that authority is provided to the
county office. Acceptable signatures for general partnerships,
joint ventures, corporations, estates, and trusts shall consist
of an indicator “by” or “for” the individual’s name,
individual’s name and capacity, or individual’s name, capacity,
and name of entity.
For additional clarification on proper signatures contact your
local County FSA office.
Payment Limitations by Program
The 2014 Farm Bill established a maximum dollar amount for each
program that can be received annually, directly or indirectly,
by each person or legal entity. Payment limitations vary by
program for 2014 through 2018.
Below is an overview of payment limitations by program.
Commodity and Price Support Programs
The annual limitation for the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC)
and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, Loan Deficiency Payments
(LDPs) and Market Loan Gains is $125,000 total.
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) annual rental payment and
incentive payment is limited to $50,000. CRP contracts approved
before Oct. 1, 2008, may exceed the limitation, subject to
payment limitation rules in effect on the date of contract
The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) has an annual limit of
$200,000 per disaster event. The Emergency Forest Restoration
Program (EFRP) has an annual limit of $500,000 per disaster
Disaster Assistance Programs
The annual limitation of $125,000 applies to the Emergency
Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program
(ELAP), Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and Livestock
Indemnity Program (LIP). The total payments received under ELAP,
LFP and LIP may not exceed $125,000. A separate limitation of
$125,000 applies to Tree Assistance Program (TAP) payments.
There is also a separate $125,000 payment limit for the
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).
Payment limitations also apply to Natural Resources Conservation
Service (NRCS) programs. Contact your local NRCS office more
For more information on FSA payment limitations by program,
2018 Acreage Reporting Dates in Illinois are:
September 30, 2017 aquaculture,
turfgrass sod, f
December 15, 2017
fall seeded small grains,
and perennial forage
January 2, 2018
January 15, 2018
other perennial crops
June 15, 2018 cucumbers (planted 5/1 –
July 15, 2018
all other spring and summer planted crops (corn, soybeans,
pumpkins, sweet corn, etc.)
August 15, 2018
cabbage (planted 6/1 – 7/20)
September 15, 2018 cucumbers (planted 6/1 –
The following exceptions apply to the above acreage reporting
*If the crop has not been planted by the above acreage reporting
date, then the acreage must be reported no later than 15
calendar days after planting is completed.
*If a producer acquires additional acreage after the above
acreage reporting date, then the acreage must be reported no
later than 30 calendars days after purchase or acquiring the
lease. Appropriate documentation must be provided to the county
*If a perennial forage crop is reported with the intended use of
“left standing,” or “seed,” then the acreage must be reported by
July 15th. Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP)
policy holders should note that the acreage reporting date for
NAP covered crops is the earlier of the applicable dates or 15
calendar days before grazing or harvesting of the crop begins.
In order to comply with FSA program eligibility requirements,
all producers are encouraged to visit their local FSA office to
file an accurate crop certification report by the applicable
deadline. For questions regarding crop certification and crop
loss reports, please contact your local FSA office.
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Maintaining the Quality of Farm-Stored Loan Grain
Bins are ideally designed to hold a level volume of grain. When
bins are overfilled and grain is heaped up, airflow is hindered and
the chance of spoilage increases.
Producers who take out marketing assistance loans and use the
farm-stored grain as collateral should remember that they are
responsible for maintaining the quality of the grain through the
term of the loan.
USDA Processing Pending Conservation Reserve Program Continuous
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will process many pending eligible
offers for land enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program
(CRP), and will temporarily suspend accepting most new offers until
later in the 2018 fiscal year.
All current, eligible CRP continuous enrollment offers made through
September 30, 2017, except for those made under the Pollinator
Habitat Initiative (CP42), will be approved, Additionally, FSA is
temporarily suspending acceptance of most offers going forward to
provide time to review CRP allocation levels, and to avoid exceeding
the statutory cap of 24 million acres.
The CRP acreage cap is a provision of the 2014 Farm Bill. Current
enrollment is about 23.5 million acres nationwide. USDA is
accepting all pending continuous enrollment offers that were made
beginning on May 4, 2017, and extending through September 30, 2017,
except Pollinator Habitat Initiative offers. Pollinator acreage
offers are being declined because the program has met its acreage
enrollment goal. Effective immediately, USDA is suspending
acceptance of all new CRP continuous offers received or submitted
after September 30, 2017. The suspension will continue until later
in the 2018 fiscal year. However, FSA will continue to accept
eligible offers for CRP Grasslands enrollment.
In return for enrolling in CRP, USDA, through FSA, provides
participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance.
Landowners enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years.
CRP pays farmers and ranchers who remove sensitive lands from
production and plant certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve
water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat.
Payment totals for 2017 were announced earlier this week totaling
over $1.6 billion.
For more information about CRP, contact your local FSA office or
visit www.fsa.usda.gov/crp. To locate your local FSA office, visit
Marketing Assistance Available for 2017 Crops
The 2014 Farm Bill authorized 2014-2018 crop year Marketing
Assistance Loans (MALs) and Loan Deficiency Payments (LDPs).
MALs provide financing and marketing assistance for 2017 feed
grains, soybeans and other oilseeds, pulse crops, rice, peanuts,
cotton, wool and honey. MALs provide producers interim financing
after harvest to help them meet cash flow needs without having to
sell their commodities when market prices are typically at
A producer who is eligible to obtain an MAL, but agrees to forgo the
loan, may obtain an LDP if such a payment is available.
To be eligible for an MAL or an LDP, producers must have a
beneficial interest in the commodity, in addition to other
requirements. A producer retains beneficial interest when control
of and title to the commodity is maintained. For an LDP, the
producer must retain beneficial interest in the commodity from the
time of planting through the date the producer filed Form CCC-633EZ
(page 1) in the FSA County Office. For more information, producers
should contact their local FSA county office or view the LDP Fact
Tree Assistance Program (TAP) Sign-up
Orchardists and nursery tree growers who experience losses from
natural disasters must submit a TAP application either 90 calendar
days after the disaster event or the date when the loss is
apparent. TAP was authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 as a
permanent disaster program. TAP provides financial assistance to
qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or
rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural
Eligible tree types include trees, bushes or vines that produce an
annual crop for commercial purposes. Nursery trees include
ornamental, fruit, nut and Christmas trees that are produced for
commercial sale. Trees used for pulp or timber are ineligible.
To qualify for TAP, orchardists must suffer a qualifying tree, bush
or vine loss in excess of 15 percent mortality from an eligible
natural disaster. The eligible trees, bushes or vines must have
been owned when the natural disaster occurred; however, eligible
growers are not required to own the land on which the eligible
trees, bushes and vines were planted.
If the TAP application is approved, the eligible trees, bushes and
vines must be replaced within 12 months from the date the
application is approved. The cumulative total quantity of acres
planted to trees, bushes or vines, for which a producer can receive
TAP payments, cannot exceed 500 acres annually.
NAP Application for Coverage Deadline for 2018 Crops
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) applications for
coverage are due at different times, depending on the crop being
2018 NAP Application Closing Dates:
August 31, 2017 - canola
September 1, 2017 - value loss crops, such as, aquaculture,
Christmas trees, ornamental nursery, and turfgrass sod
September 30, 2017 - mechanically harvested forage, grazed forage,
and fall seeded small grains.
November 20, 2017 - bi-annual and perennial crops, such as apples,
asparagus, blueberries, caneberries, cherries, grapes, hops,
nectarines, pecans, peaches, pears, plums, and strawberries.
December 1, 2017 - honey
March 15, 2018 - spring and summer planted NAP crops
May 1, 2018 – 2019 nursery crops
Eligible producers can apply for 2018 NAP coverage at their local
FSA Office using form CCC-471, Application for Coverage. The
service fee for basic NAP coverage is the lesser of $250 per crop or
$750 per producer per administrative county, not to exceed a total
of $1,875 for a producer with farming interest in multiple
counties. Producers interested in buy-up coverage must pay a
premium, in addition to the service fee. The maximum premium will
Producer meeting the definition of a socially disadvantaged farmer
or rancher, beginning farmer or rancher or limited resource farmer
or rancher will have service fees waived. Producers meeting this
definition that choose to purchase buy-up coverage will also have
service fees waived and the premium will be capped at $3,282.
Farm Storage Facility Loans
FSA’s Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program provides
low-interest financing to producers to build or upgrade storage
facilities and to purchase portable (new or used) structures,
equipment and storage and handling trucks.
The low-interest funds can be used to build or upgrade permanent
facilities to store commodities. Eligible commodities include corn,
grain sorghum, rice, soybeans, oats, peanuts, wheat, barley, minor
oilseeds harvested as whole grain, pulse crops (lentils, chickpeas
and dry peas), hay, honey, renewable biomass, fruits, nuts and
vegetables for cold storage facilities, floriculture, hops, maple
sap, rye, milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, meat and poultry
(unprocessed), eggs, and aquaculture (excluding systems that
maintain live animals through uptake and discharge of water).
Qualified facilities include grain bins, hay barns and cold storage
facilities for eligible commodities.
Producers do not need to demonstrate the lack of commercial credit
availability to apply. The loans are designed to assist a diverse
range of farming operations, including small and mid-sized
businesses, new farmers, operations supplying local food and farmers
markets, non-traditional farm products, and underserved producers.
To learn more about the FSA Farm Storage Facility Loan, visit
www.fsa.usda.gov/pricesupport or contact your local FSA county
office. To find your local FSA county office, visit
December Interest Rates and
Important Dates to Remember
Illinois Farm Service Agency
3500 Wabash Ave.
Springfield, IL 62711
Phone: 217-241-6600 ext. 2
State Executive Director:
William J. Graff
Acting State Committee:
Jill Appell - Chairperson
Brenda Hill - Member
Joyce Matthews - Member
Gordon Stine - Member
To find contact information for your local office go to