Crop reporting: Better late than not at all (Keeping the Farm)
(Editor’s note: Bob Wevoday is a farm program chief with USDA-Farm Service Agency, Maryland.)
I have always been taught that the only bad question is the one you never ask.
I am sure I put that adage to the test many times growing up.
In fact, after proving it wrong time and time again, I’ve been resigned to just choosing to avoid being the one to ask a dumb question.
I’m not saying that is the correct thing to do, but it is a choice I’m constantly making. In our current world, it is a little better.
We have a device in the palm of our hand, that if properly used, can usually find us the answer to questions without having to put our lack of knowledge on display for everyone around us.
Another thing that has helped, is the rise of Frequently Asked Question on websites.
Chances are if you are wondering something, someone else has probably wondered the same thing and these FAQ pages can be a short cut to finding out what others have asked before you.
One great question that we see at FSA concerns wheat as a cover crop.
As in, what do I need to do if I have cover crop wheat that I want to harvest?
We see this time and again throughout the state.
Of course, changing your mind is your prerogative, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind when you make the decision to take wheat to harvest instead of destroying the cover crop.
If you find yourself in this situation, one thing you can do is late file the crop at a local FSA office.
Late filing does come with a fee, but that could be money well spent.
At FSA, we are always stressing the importance of accurately reporting your crops, and for good reason.
Crop reporting is necessary to remain eligible for many programs including price support, disaster, and conservation programs.
Even in cases where there is no program payment that may be issued when an acreage report is filed or filed late with a fee, it is always better to file an acreage report and remit the late file fee than to choose not to report the acreage.
In many cases, program or payment eligibility decisions extend beyond the final date when a late-filed acreage report can be filed.
So, electing not to file and pay a fee could be final regarding the potential eligibility of those acres and producers sharing in the acres.
Having an accurate acreage report on file helps ensure eligibility for payment and disaster assistance, especially when it comes to unforeseen future disaster or program payment eligibility.
We never know what programs will be created for future Farm Bills or to address future disasters.
By keeping your records accurate as you make decisions, you keep yourself eligible for future FSA programs.
For the case of wheat, if you were to not late file, and plant soybeans behind the harvested wheat, the soybeans would be recorded as the initial crop.
In addition to contacting FSA about the change in intended use, you also should contact your crop insurance agent to make them aware as well.
The busiest time for acreage reporting is upon us.
A time when you will be working very closely with your local FSA office.
If you have any questions on what you need to do to make sure you do not cost yourself a chance at assistance, just ask.
Yes, there may still be bad questions out there in the world, but asking what you need to do to keep your records current will never be one of them.