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Published May 10, 2011, 10:46 AM

FSA hears appeals in ACRE cases

More than a dozen Plentywood, Mont., area farmers have completed appeal hearings before the state Farm Service Agency committee in Bozeman, Mont., arguing that they should be allowed to withdraw from the so-called 2009 ACRE program.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

More than a dozen Plentywood, Mont., area farmers have completed appeal hearings before the state Farm Service Agency committee in Bozeman, Mont., arguing that they should be allowed to withdraw from the so-called 2009 ACRE program.

Incorrect information?

Some farmers enrolled in the Average Crop Revenue Election program for durum wheat say they were fed incorrect information provided by Sheridan County, Mont., FSA officials. They say the information underestimated the reductions in their loan deficiency payments. They also say the county FSA improperly implemented a “register” that had the effect of allowing some farmers an extra 45 days of market information to evaluate the program and withdraw.

Jerry Thuesen, a Reserve, Mont., farmer and former state committeeman, says about 14 individuals appealed to the state committee the week of April 11. Initially, it was estimated 47 farmers in the area had signed up in the program for durum, and were out more than $1.5 million in the program. Three appellants went to appear before the five-person committee in person while others appealed via letter or phone interview. Terry Angvick, a farmer-appellant and former Sheridan County Extension Service ag agent, says there is no schedule for the state committee deciding on the issue.

“Misinformation,” Thuesen says of the episode. “I think you boil it down to that one thing.” Thuesen acknowledges he wouldn’t have used the register even if he’d known it was there, because he thought the program was better than it was.

Leadership change

Meanwhile, executive leadership in the Montana FSA is changing. Bruce Nelson, Montana FSA state executive director, on May 2 was appointed acting administrator for the national FSA, replacing acting administrator Val Dolcini, who is returning to a state FSA role in California. Dolcini had replaced Jonathan Coppess, who left the post Feb. 15 to be chief counsel for the Senate Agriculture Committee. Nelson has been state executive director twice — now, since 2009, and earlier from 1993 to 2000.

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