Farm Policy Roundup–July 11, 2014

rcppblogRegional Conservation Partnership Program Pre-Proposal Deadline July 14

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting pre-proposals for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) through Monday, July 14.

NRCS is advises partners to submit pre-proposals via email or postal mail. The Grants.gov website will be down for maintenance the weekend of July 12- 14, 2014. This means that applicants will NOT be able to submit proposals via Grants.gov after today, July 11. For any applicants submitted between July 12 -14, please submit through email at RCPP@wdc.usda.gov or postal mail.

For complete details, visit the RCPP homepage.

Crop Insurance Interim Rule Released

USDA’s Risk Management Agency released an interim rule regarding implementation of various crop insurance provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill. The interim rule was published in the Federal Register on July 1 and will be open for public comment until September 2.

The interim rule addresses seven sections from the Farm Bill: highly erodible land and wetland conservation compliance for crop insurance, enterprise units for irrigated and non-irrigated crops, adjustment in actual production history (APH) to establish insurable yields, crop production on native sod, coverage levels by practice, beginning farmer and rancher provisions, and authority to correct errors.

Specific provisions of the interim rule relative to American Farmland Trust’s work include:

  • Conservation Compliance – the interim rule provides for conservation compliance implementation in the 2016 reinsurance year. To be eligible for a premium subsidy an insured producer must:

o   Have a completed certification of compliance (AD-1026) filed with FSA that addresses Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC).

o   Be in compliance with a conservation plan approved by NRCS for all highly erodible land.

o   Not plant an ag commodity on a wetland converted after February 7, 2014.

o   Not have converted a wetland for the purpose of making the production of an annually planted ag commodity possible on converted wetland after February 7, 2014.

  • Sodsaver – the interim rule sets forth provisions to apply a reduced premium subsidy and a reduced insurance guarantee, and to eliminate the substitute yield for yield guarantee calculations for the first four years after native sod is converted to the production of an annual crop in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
  • Beginning Farmer and Rancher Provisions – the interim rule will provide a ten percent increase in premium subsidy, increases the low yield in actual production history (APH) to 80% of the transition yield, and provides for the use of a previous producer’s yield history for beginning farmers and ranchers. Beginning farmers and ranchers are defined as those with five or fewer years of experience.

RMA developed an FAQ that further explains the interim rule. The interim rule was among issues discussed in a House Agriculture General Farm Commodities and Crop Insurance subcommittee hearing this week in which Under Secretary Michael Scuse testified on USDA’s implementation progress. The archived hearing can be viewed on the House Agriculture Committee website.

Looking Ahead…

Next week, House leadership has indicated several tax extension bills will be taken up on the floor for a vote. Among the bills scheduled for floor time is the Enhanced Conservation Easement Deduction Bill H.R. 2807, sponsored by Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Cal.). The bill has a total of 221 cosponsors.

The bill reinstates and makes permanent rules that expired in December which increase the amount of income tax deductions allowed for farmers and ranchers making charitable contributions of real property (easements) for conservation purposes.

With a vote expected in the coming days, now is a good time to encourage your Member of Congress to vote yes on H.R. 2807. Calls can be made through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

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