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FSA requires environmental review before project implementation

• Nov 25, 2017 at 8:00 AM

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires Federal agencies to consider all potential environmental impacts for federally-funded projects before the project is approved.

For all Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs, an environmental review must be completed before actions are approved, such as site preparation or ground disturbance. These programs include, but are not limited to, the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program and farm loans. If project implementation begins before FSA has completed an environmental review, this will result in a denial of the request.

There are exceptions regarding the Stafford Act and emergencies. It is important to wait until you receive written approval of your project proposal before starting any actions, including, but not limited to, vegetation clearing, site preparation or ground disturbance.

Remember to contact your local FSA office early in your planning process to determine what level of environmental review is required for your program application so that it can be completed timely. Applications cannot be approved contingent upon the completion of an environmental review. FSA must have copies of all permits and plans before an application can be approved.

In other news...

Are you thinking about selling land that’s enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)?: If you plan to sell farmland that’s enrolled in the CRP, our office would like to remind you about the terms and conditions of your contract. Under the CRP program, the original contract (CRP-1) will need to be revised to reflect the change in participants and/or shares on the contract.

The new CRP participant(s) must sign a revised contract within 60 calendar days from the date of notification by the county committee or county executive director. If a revised contract isn’t signed within the 60 day timeframe, the contract will be terminated with respect to the affected portions of such land and the original CRP participant will be held liable. If the new landowner elects not to continue the CRP contract, the contract will be terminated.

When a contract is terminated, refund of the following payments plus interest is required from the original CRP participant: all annual rental payments, all cost share payments, signup incentive payments, and practice incentive payments. Liquidated damages are also assessed. Refunds of payments will not be required in cases where the owner’s estate or the heirs do not succeed to the contract. There are other cases that do not require the refund of payments, when a participant loses control of the land, such as eminent domain.

Lastly, contact your county FSA office if you have any questions regarding the terms and conditions of your CRP contract.

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ARC, PLC acreage maintenance: Producers enrolled in Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) must protect all cropland and noncropland acres on the farm from wind and water erosion and noxious weeds. Producers who sign ARC county or individual contracts and PLC contracts agree to effectively control noxious weeds on the farm according to sound agricultural practices.

If a producer fails to take necessary actions to correct a maintenance problem on a farm that is enrolled in ARC, or PLC the County Committee may elect to terminate the contract for the program year.

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Adjusted gross income requirements: The average adjusted gross income (AGI) limitation for commodity and disaster programs under the 2014 Farm Bill was changed to a $900,000 limitation from all income sources. A person or legal entity, other than a joint venture or general partnership, is eligible to receive, directly or indirectly, certain program payments or benefits if the average adjusted gross income of the person or legal entity falls below the $900,000 threshold for the three taxable years preceding the most immediately preceding complete taxable year.

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Dates to remember:

Dec. 4 — Last day to return voted Ballots in county committee election.

Dec. 15 — Last day for dairy producers to make elections for Milk Price Protection Program.

Dec. 15 — The final acreage reporting deadline for wheat and all other small grains.

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