PCG Reminds Producers to Obtain Ag/Timber

Registration Number for Sales Tax Exemptions

      The deadline to obtain your Ag/Timber Registration number for sales tax exemptions on eligible purchases is rapidly approaching, and the Texas Comptroller's Office has launched a new webpage, http://www.getreadytexas.org, to help with the process. Commercial producers must have this number to claim ag/timber sales tax exemptions beginning Jan. 1, 2012.

      Those wishing to claim ag/timber sales tax exemptions must ensure that they have a registration number, which also has to be included on Form 01-924, the Texas Agricultural Sales and Use Tax Exemption Certification. The purchaser must provide that form to the merchant when claiming a sales tax exemption on qualifying items.    Please note that electric service providers also will need the number and a new exemption certificate.

      Those registering online will obtain the number immediately and the application will take about 10 minutes to complete. If you prefer to apply for your registration number via a paper application, which could take three to four weeks, you can do one of the following: download the paper application from http://www.getreadytexas.org; call the Comptroller's Fax on Demand service at 1-800-531-1441 to have the paper application faxed to you; or call 1-800-252-5555 to request that a copy of the application be mailed to you. The Comptroller's office notes that many retailers also have copies of the application.

      "This slight change in the way ag and timber sales tax exemptions are administered will be extremely beneficial to producers as it will help eliminate the fraudulent use of sales tax exemptions and protect our ability to correctly utilize those exemptions in the agricultural industry," Plains Cotton Growers Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "Once implemented, the process of claiming agricultural sales tax exemptions on eligible purchases will be more seamless and easier than ever."


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Five Facts About the Proposed

Child Labor in Agriculture Rule

Source: United States Department of Labor

Fact # 1: The proposed Child Labor in Agriculture rule will not prohibit all people under the age of 18 from working on a farm.  

      The proposed rule would not change any of the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum age standards for agricultural employment. Under the FLSA, the legal age to be employed on a farm without restrictions is 16. The FLSA also allows children between the ages of 12 and 15 years, under certain conditions, to be employed outside of school hours to perform nonhazardous jobs on farms. Children under the age of 12 may be employed with parental permission on very small farms to perform nonhazardous jobs outside of school hours.

      Young people can be employed to perform many jobs on the farm and this would be true even if the proposed rule were adopted as written. The proposed rule would, however, prohibit the employment of workers under the age of 18 in nonagricultural occupations in the farm-product raw materials wholesale trade industries. Prohibited establishments would include country grain elevators, grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, feed yards, stockyard, livestock exchanges, and livestock auctions not on a farm or used solely by a single farmer. What these locations have in common is that many workers, including children, have suffered occupational deaths or serious injuries working in these facilities over the last few years.

Fact # 2: The proposed rule would not eliminate the parental exemption for owners/operators of a family farm. 

      The parental exemption for the owner or operator of a farm is statutory and cannot be eliminated through the regulatory process. A child of any age may perform any job, even hazardous work, at any age at any time on a farm owned by his or her parent. A child of any age whose parent operates a farm may also perform any task, even hazardous jobs, on that farm but only outside of school hours. So for children working on farms that are registered as LLCs, but operated solely by their parents, the parental exemption would still apply.

Fact # 3: This proposed regulation will not eliminate 4-H and FFA programs. 

      The Department of Labor fully supports the important contributions both 4-H and the FFA make toward developing our children. The proposed rule would in no way prohibit a child from raising or caring for an animal in a non-employment situation even if the animal were housed on a working farm as long as he or she is not hired or "employed" to work with the animal. In such a situation, the child is not acting as an "employee" and is not governed by the child labor regulations. And there is nothing in the proposed rule that would prevent a child from being employed to work with animals other than in those specific situations identified in the proposal as particularly hazardous.

Fact # 4: Under the proposed rule, children will still be able to help neighbors in need of help.  

      In order for the child labor provisions of the FLSA to apply, there must first be an employer/employee relationship. The lone act of helping a neighbor round up loose cattle who have broken out of their fencing, for example, generally would not establish an employer/employee relationship.

Fact # 5: Children will still be able to take animals to the county fair or to market. 

      A child who raises and cares for his or her animal -- for example, as part of a 4-H project -- is not being employed by anyone, and thus is outside the coverage of the FLSA. Even if the child needs to rent space from a farm, the animal is not part of the farm's business and with regard to the care of the animal no employer/employee relationship exists, so the child labor provisions would not apply. Likewise, there would be no problem with taking the animal to the county fair or to market, since the child is doing this on his/her own behalf not on behalf of an employer. The proposed prohibitions would apply only if the child was an employee of the exchange or auction.

      To access this online, visit this page on the U.S. Department of Labor's website: http://www.dol.gov/whd/CL/truthNPRM.htm.


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NRCS Announces Sign-up Period for

Conservation Stewardship Program

      USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Salvador Salinas announced Jan. 13, 2012 as the first ranking cut-off period for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

      "CSP gives conservation minded producers the ability to apply and build on their current stewardship efforts," said Salinas.  "Farmers and ranchers actively engaged in natural resource conservation practices have the opportunity to earn financial rewards through CSP."

      CSP is a voluntary five-year program offered to landowners statewide through continuous signup. Producers interested in CSP should submit applications to their local NRCS office by the deadline so their applications can be considered during this first 2012 ranking period.

      In fiscal year 2011, Texas awarded 206 CSP contracts on nearly 500,000 acres with a total of $5.1 million in payments to help farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices that provide public benefits, such as cleaner water and  improved air quality. 

      "CSP is a strong program in Texas and we are hopeful more farmers and ranchers with stewardship goals will participate in the 2012 CSP," said Salinas. 

      Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, rangeland and nonindustrial forestland and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of Indian tribes. Individual landowners, legal entities and Indian tribes may be eligible to apply for CSP assistance.  Participants will have the opportunity to receive payments for practices that maintain and improve water and soil quality, as well as enhance wildlife habitat.

      A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help potential applicants determine if CSP is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contract obligations and potential payments. It is available from local NRCS offices and on the CSP web page at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/csp.

      As part of the CSP application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete  a resource inventory using a Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT), which determines the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities.  The applicant's conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.

      "I encourage farmers and ranchers actively involved in conserving their natural resources to apply for CSP in order to maintain or improve existing conservation activities, and implement additional practices on their land," said Salinas.

      Interested producers can obtain the information from the Texas NRCS website, http://www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov, or contact their USDA-NRCS field office.