Friday, July 11, 2008                                  By Shawn Wade

      TheFood, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 requires participants in thelegislation’s new permanent disaster programs to have crop insurance ornon-insured crop disaster assistance (NAP) coverage for all crops and grazinglands in all counties on which disaster assistance could be requested.

      Sincethe 2008 Act was enacted after the 2008 crop insurance and NAP application periodshad closed, many producers do not have all of their crops and grazing landcovered under these programs.

      Fortunately,in addition to the coverage requirement, the 2008 Act also authorized a processthat will allow producers to pay a fee, called a buy-in fee, and establishprogram eligibility under the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE)Program, Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), Tree Assistance Program(TAP), and Emergency Assistance Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program(ELAP).

      Thisis the only opportunity for producers who would otherwise be ineligible for thenew disaster assistance programs to gain 2008 eligibility. Any producer with2008 crops, including grazing lands, that are not fully covered by cropinsurance or NAP may take advantage of this one-time opportunity. Growers whomiss this opportunity will not be eligible for 2008 disaster assistance.

      Producersshould note that payment of the applicable buy-in fees does not provide theproducer 2008 crop insurance or NAP coverage; it only affords eligibility for2008 disaster program benefits.

      Theapplicable buy-in form must be completed, and applicable fees paid, bySeptember 16, 2008 as required by the 2008 Act. The buy-in fee for 2008eligibility for currently uncovered crops is equal to the catastrophic riskprotection insurance (CAT) or NAP coverage fee of $100 per crop per county.

      The2008 Act limits the total amount of buy-in fees a producer must pay to gaineligibility to not more than $300 per producer per administrative county, or$900 total per producer for all counties less any previously paid fees for CATand/or NAP and credits for previously purchased buy-up plans of crop insurance.

      Producerscan contact their local administrative FSA County Office to file theirapplication for the waiver and pay the applicable fees.

      Thecrop insurance and NAP coverage requirements will be waived in 2008 forproducers who did not obtain crop insurance or NAP coverage by the applicablesales closing date, if the producer files an application for waiver and pays abuy-in fee in an amount equal to the 2008 applicable NAP coverage orcatastrophic risk protection plan fee for the crop or grazing lands.

      Producerswho meet the definition of “Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource," or"Beginning Farmer or Rancher," do not have to meet the RiskManagement Purchase Requirement, and, therefore, are not required to pay thebuy-in fee.

      TheSURE program will be available to eligible producers on farms in disastercounties, designated by the Secretary, including contiguous counties that haveincurred crop production losses and/or crop quality losses during the cropyear. However, Congress determined that payments would not occur until thecalculation at the end of the marketing year. It also will be available to anyfarm where, during the calendar year, the total loss of production on the farm,because of weather, is greater than 50 percent of the normal production of thefarm.

      Because Congress did not provide a rulemaking exception for these programs, FSAmust first publish a proposed rule seeking public comment, followed by a finalrule. FSA is working to develop detailed regulations and software for theseprograms. Sign up for the 2008 disaster program is not expected to begin untilthis winter.



Friday, July 11, 2008                            By Roger Haldenby

      CottonIncorporated will be mailing a letter to cotton producers across the UnitedStates cotton belt asking for assistance and participation in an anonymousonline Natural Resource Survey. The letter should arrive soon after July 15th.

      Uponreceipt of their invitation to participate, cotton producers are asked tolog-in to the web link specified in the letter. Growers are asked to take itonly once and only if they have production responsibility for a cotton farmingoperation.

      Allinput will be anonymous, so growers can be comfortable in truthfully answeringthe questions. Individual responses will not be tracked, but there is asecurity log-in feature to deter malicious responses.

      TheNatural Resource Survey will gather information that only cotton producers canprovide and, by identifying the great strides that cotton farmers have made inproduction efficiency, will help in promoting U.S. cotton and directing futureresearch.

      CottonIncorporated, using the summarized data from the information provided, wants toshow the global textile industry, brands, retailers and consumers the trueextent of cotton's stewardship of the environment.

      Weknow you get numerous requests for information, so your willingness toparticipate in this Cotton Incorporated survey that is vital to cotton's futureis greatly appreciated. The survey should only take about twenty minutes tocomplete. If you have questions about the survey, please contact CottonIncorporated at:





      Time is drawing near for theexpiration of many Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts on the SouthPlains and High Plains regions of the state.

      The Natural ResourcesConservation Service (NRCS) wants to remind landowners with expiring CRPcontracts to come by the local field offices to review their conservationcompliance plans before making decisions on the future use of their land.

      “The bulk of the state’sexpiring CRP contracts are located on the South Plains and Panhandle regions,”said Mickey Black, NRCS assistant state conservationist in Lubbock. “It’simportant for landowners to understand USDA compliance before putting a plow inthe ground. Producers should know the options available to them.”

      According to the Farm ServiceAgency (FSA), in this region there are over 78,000 acres in CRP contracts dueto expire in October. Almost 680,000 acres of CRP will expire in October of2009, and over 507,000 acres in October of 2010.

      NRCS wants producers to knowthat it’s never too early to start considering what to do with CRP land.

      Leigh Cranmer, NRCSagronomist in Lubbock said, “Landowners have several options, including grazingor haying the existing grass cover, making enhancements to target wildlife, orputting it back into production. A grazing or haying system could be set upfor relatively little cost, and would offer protection from erosion as well asbenefiting wildlife. If crop production is the goal, serious considerationshould be given to leaving sensitive areas and acres with a low potential for productionin grass, and only farming those areas best suited for crop production.”

      NRCS can assist producerswith livestock water facilities and cross fences if producers leave the land inthe existing grass cover. Cost share assistance may be available through theEnvironmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), administered by NRCS.

      According to NRCS, if land isconverted back to crop production, it may be necessary for landowners to applycertain conservation practices on their land to ensure compliance with theHighly Erodible Land and Wetland Provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985.

      Conservation compliance couldentail the implementation of a crop rotation that includes highresidue-producing crops like wheat or sorghum, or the installation, repair andmaintenance of structural practices like terraces.

      NRCS, working with the localSoil and Water Conservation Districts, urges producers to contact their localNRCS field offices to discuss expiring CRP options and to check on eligibilityfor USDA benefits.

      CRP is a voluntary programthrough which farmers and ranchers plant grasses and trees on marginal croplandacres in exchange for rental payments. The USDA Farm Service Agency administersCRP; NRCS provides technical assistance for the program.

      For more information, callthe USDA-NRCS office in your county, listed under USDA in the Yellow Pages, oraccess the information on the Texas NRCS website at: