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Keep good planting records this spring

STEVE JOHNSON 05/07/2013 @ 8:53am Farm Management Specialist with ISU Extension housed in Polk County, Iowa. Areas of expertise include crop marketing, grain contracts, government farm programs, crop insurance, farmland leasing and other crop risk management strategies. Reach Steve by e-mail at sdjohns@iastate.edu.

Spring will arrive eventually, and as you plant corn, soybeans and other crops, keep accurate records. Farmers need to keep track of the date each field is planted, name of the field, how many acres are planted, and the crop planted.

Farmers need to keep accurate planting records to report that information to your local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to certify your planted acreage. As they do each year, FSA staff will include the information in your acreage report –- FSA form 578 -- which is kept on file at FSA. The information will be used not only by FSA but also by your crop insurance agent to enter into the Risk Management Agency (RMA) database.

Need to certify planted acreage with FSA for farm program and crop insurance

Reporting of planted acreage information to FSA is commonly referred to as “acreage certification.” Farmers certify their planted acreage each year. For 30 years or so, farmers have been certifying their planted acreage each year with FSA, so this requirement is not new. But this spring with the late start on planting and what will end up being a rush to get the crop in the ground, it’s important to remember to keep track of planted acreage information.

With technology in the tractor cab today, how much does that help farmers keep track of information needed for acreage certification? Some farmers are using digital cards and providing their planting information electronically to their FSA office or to their crop insurance agent. But agriculture generally is in the very early stages of certifying acres electronically. Most farmers are still writing down the number of acres and crop planted and related information by hand, and the data is transferred to FSA form 578 by hand.

July 15 is deadline to report 2013 planted acreage to FSA

You have until July 15 to report your planted acreage information to your FSA office,  and it probably wouldn’t hurt to do this in person, just in case someone on the other end of the conversation has a question or needs a clarification. A lot of farmers, as soon as they are done planting, want to get their information to FSA as soon as possible. And local FSA offices are going to get pretty busy in the next few weeks -- with acreage certification and other farm program activities such as ACRE enrollment and CRP and CSP sign-ups.

Most farmers find it works best to keep records while they are actually planting, so they don’t forget or don’t get fields confused as to which information goes with each field. For each field, some also keep track of fertilizer and herbicide applications, tillage practices used, etc. But you definitely need to keep track of the planting information that both FSA and RMA require.

Traditionally, the deadline for farmers to certify their planted acreage with FSA was June 30. But last year USDA FSA moved it to July 15 to avoid confusion with the crop insurance reporting deadline. Now both deadlines are July 15.

Since the crop insurance billing date has been moved up to August 15, providing a copy of that acreage report well in advance of the July 15 deadline will assure more timely crop insurance data entry and receipt of your premium notice. The 2013 crop insurance premium is due in September. To avoid a penalty, payment must be received by October 1, which is one month earlier than in the past.

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