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Published February 11, 2014, 01:06 PM

USDA working on farm bill rules, regulations

Passing a new farm bill took more than two years. Working out details, particularly ones involving livestock disaster programs, won’t take as long, says Aaron Krauter, the executive state director of the North Dakota Farm Service Agency.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Passing a new farm bill took more than two years.

Working out details, particularly ones involving livestock disaster programs, won’t take as long, says Aaron Krauter, the executive state director of the North Dakota Farm Service Agency.

Still, farmers and ranchers will need patience, Krauter says.

“It’s going to take a period of time to get all those rules and regulations written,” he says. “The ones that will happen the fastest are the livestock disaster programs. We’re going to see those enacted really quick. I hate to put a date to it."

Though President Barack Obama has signed the farm bill into law, the U.S. Department of Agriculture must work out details. That process has begun, Krauter says.

Among the livestock disaster programs he cites as strong candidates for speedy approval are the livestock indemnity program, or LIP; the livestock forage disaster program, or LFP; and the emergency assistance for livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish program, or ELAP.

LIP compensates ranchers for weather-related livestock losses. LFP compensates ranchers for grazing losses. ELAP provides emergency assistance to cover losses from adverse weather, including blizzards.

A devastating blizzard in October 2013 hammered livestock in the western Dakotas, focusing even more attention on the federal livestock disaster programs.

The programs, which expired on Oct. 1, 2011, need to be updated. “But for the most part, those things are written already,” which should boost their enactment, Krauter says.

Enactment of disaster livestock programs also could be accelerated because USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has some flexibility in pushing them through to an earlier start date, Krauter says.

Important ag agency

Virtually all farmers and ranchers on the Northern Plains have dealings with the Farm Service Agency, an arm of USDA that’s involved in disaster, commodity, conservation and farm loan programs, among many other things.

Krauter, once a farmer and Democratic state legislator from Regent, N.D., had led the North Dakota FSA since August 2009. Obama picked him for the job, which is filled by political appointment.

Most farmers on the Northern Plains also have dealings with the Risk Management Agency, an arm of USDA that administers the federal crop insurance program.

The RMA regional office in Billings, Mont., referred questions to RMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. John Shea, an RMA spokesman, tells Agweek that his agency doesn’t have any comment yet on implementation of the new farm bill.

March 15 is the deadline for buying or modifying crop insurance for most spring-planted crops.

Farmers need to remember the deadline again this year, Krauter says.

Following developments

The USDA will publish its proposed farm bill regulations in the Federal Register, and ag producers will be able to comment on the proposals, Krauter says.

The Federal Register, sometimes described as the “daily newspaper of the federal government,” is a legal newspaper published every business day. It contains federal agency regulation and proposed rules and public notices, among other things.

More information: www.federalregister.gov.

Ag producers who want to learn about implementation of the new farm bill can sign up for FSA’s electronic newsletters, Krauter says.

The newsletters come from the county, state and federal levels.

For more information or to register for the newsletters, visit www.fsa.usda.gov. Once on the link, go to the lower right-hand corner and click on “stay connected.”

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