2018 Farm Bill Notes

Eligibility for Operators on Heirs Property Land to Obtain a Farm Number

Recognizing that farm operators on land that has been passed down through multiple generations without formal probate proceedings may not have clear title to the land, this part of the Farm Bill ensures that operators of such land, commonly referred to as heirs’ property, who provide certain documentation to USDA are eligible to receive farm numbers for the purpose of accessing programs offered by the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency. Eligible documents are:

 In states that have adopted the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (Al,  AR, CT, GA, HI, MT, NV, NM, SC, TX) a court order verifying the land meets the definition of heirs’ property or certification form the local recorder of deeds that the recorded landowner is deceased and not less than one heir has initiated a procedure to retitle the land.

In 2018 (DC, KS, MS, TN and WV) introduced the bill.

A tenancy-in-common agreement that sets out ownership rights and responsibilities among all the landowners.

Tax return for proceeding five years

Self-certification that the farm operator has control of the land.

Any other documentation identified by the Secretary as an alternative form of eligible documentation.

The provisions also requires the Secretary to provide for assignment of a farm number to any farm operator who provides a form of eligibility documentation for purposes of demonstrating that the farm operator has control of the land for purpose of defining that land as a farm, and requires the Secretary to identify alternative forms of eligible forms of documentation that a farm operator may provide in seeking the assignment of a farm number.

Alabama Industrial Hemp Program Registration Open in October

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—Registration for the 2020 Alabama Industrial Hemp Program opens Oct 7. Growers, processors, handlers and universities will have until Nov. 14 to submit applications.

Documentation Required

Dennis Delaney, team leader for Alabama Extension’s Hemp Action Team, said it is important applicants submit all required documentation as well the application fee.

“Everyone must submit a fully completed application, a required criminal background check, and the $200 non-refundable application fee,” Delaney said. “Not submitting all your required documentation could delay or prevent your application from being approved.

Interested growers will be able to download application forms and other required materials from the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI). The anticipated dates for accepting hemp applications for the 2020 Hemp Program will be Oct. 7 through Nov. 14.

In 2018, the ADAI rolled out a licensing and inspection program for the production of industrial hemp.

Delaney emphasizes that the program is highly regulated.

“It is important for the public to understand that no one can grow, transport or process hemp without a permit issued by the ADAI,” he said.

In 2019, permitted growers planted the first legal crop of industrial hemp in Alabama since World War II.

Extension’s Hemp Action Team

Alabama Extension’s Hemp Action team is developing management practices and protocols related to cultivation and in particular insect and disease management for industrial hemp.

“The team has identified a number of insects and diseases on hemp in Alabama this year,” said Kassie Conner, a plant pathologist on the team. “We do not know yet if all of them are causing economic damage or are merely incidental.”

Conner and Delaney said current licensed growers should contact members of the team for help identifying insect pests and diseases.

More Information

Find more information about the Alabama Extension Hemp Action Team as well as contact information by visiting Alabama Extension online.


Accurate 2020 Census count means access to resources

Ag News

The 2020 U.S. Census will determine how many members of the U.S. House of Representatives each state will have. According to Georgia Department of Community Affairs Deputy Commissioner Rusty Haygood, Georgia’s delegation appears likely to remain at 14 seats.

But Haygood, co-chairman of the Georgia Complete Count Committee, says the ramifications of the census the United States conducts every 10 years go well beyond congressional representation and carry enormous importance at the local level.

“The purpose of this committee is to make sure everybody around the state knows that the census is coming and it’s important,” Haygood told the Georgia Farm Bureau Policy Development Committee on Oct. 7. “Number two, it’s to make resources available to communities, organizations and individuals around the state, for them to use to make sure the count is as successful as possible.”

GFB President Gerald Long is one of 75 members appointed to the Complete Count Committee by the office of the governor.

The census, Haygood said, boils down to political power and money.

In addition to congressional reapportionment, census data is the basis for drawing state and local political districts, from the Georgia General Assembly down to local school boards, county commissions and city councils.

There are 55 federal rural programs for which funding is determined in whole or in part by census data. These include Medicaid, Medicare Part B, the National School Lunch Program, the Head Start program, the aid for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), USDA business and industry loans and the Cooperative Extension Service.

Haygood noted that in 2016 Georgia received $23.8 billion in federal funding for rural  programs, an average of $2,300 per Georgia resident. It was the most federal money received by any state for those rural programs.

“If you know somebody that benefits for these programs, then it’s very important that they are counted, because that’s going to equal dollars coming back to the state of Georgia. If we are undercounted, those dollars are going to go somewhere else,” Haygood said.

Haygood said the most undercounted demographic groups are children from birth up to five years old. More than a million children in that age group went uncounted in 2010. The effect of undercounting preschool-age children is that when they reach school age and there is need for more classroom space, the financial burden for adding that space falls more on local funding sources.

 Haygood said people who do not have English as their primary language are also historically undercounted.

“Two demographics right there that historically have a significant undercount of millions of people are present within each of your communities,” Haygood said.

The 2020 Census will be the first that is done primarily online. It is scheduled to launch in March, when the U.S. Census Bureau will send out postcards instructing individuals where to go online to fill out the census. The Complete Count Committee is partnering with libraries around the state to provide local internet connections for people with limited access.

Those who do not fill out the nine-question census form online have the option of doing so by phone or doing so in person when a census employee visits them.

Haygood encouraged the GFB Policy Development Committee members to participate in or form local complete count committees in their communities.

Disaster Recover Assistance Hurricane Michael

Disaster Recovery Assistance

Hurricane Michael

The 2018 growing season was one of extreme difficulty for Georgia producers. Last October one of the most productive crop years on record was battered and destroyed by Hurricane Michael. According to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, Hurricane Michael caused more than $2.5 billion in losses to Georgia’s agricultural sector.

Responding to this devastation, Congress passed, and President Trump signed, the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019. The law provides assistance for production losses from Hurricane Michael through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+).

The disaster relief package also includes new Milk Loss and On-Farm Storage Loss programs to help producers who had to dump or remove milk without compensation or for losses of harvested commodities, including hay that was stored in on-farm structures.

Peach and blueberry producers will also receive assistance from 2017 freezes that affected 2017 and 2018 production through the original regulations of the 2017 WHIP program.


Signup for WHIP+ began on September 11 and will continue into 2020. WHIP+ builds off the 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) and is available to producers who have suffered eligible losses of certain crops, trees, bushes, or vines.

To be considered eligible for WHIP+, producers must farm land in a Secretarially or Presidentially-declared disaster county. Producers outside one of those counties may be still be eligible for assistance if they can prove that they experienced the minimum level of loss due to a qualifying, eligible disaster event.

Eligibility will be determined for each producer based on the size of the loss and the level of noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) or conventional crop insurance coverage obtained by the producer. A “WHIP+ factor” will be determined for each crop based on the producer’s coverage level. Producers who elected higher coverage levels will receive a higher WHIP+ factor. Producers who suffered crop losses due to Hurricane Michael will be compensated at 100 percent of their calculated WHIP+ payment, once the application is approved.

WHIP+ benefits will be subject to a per person or legal entity payment limitation of $125,000 or $250,000 if at least 75 percent of the person’s or legal entity’s average income is derived from farming, ranching, or forestry-related activities, provided the participant submits the required certification and documentation.

Both insured and uninsured producers are eligible to apply for WHIP+. Producers receiving assistance through WHIP+ will be required to purchase crop insurance or NAP coverage, at the minimum 60 percent level for the next two consecutive crop years.

USDA is also working with Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner to further assist growers through state block grants for producer losses not covered by WHIP+ or other USDA disaster programs.

For county rates, a WHIP+ application or related program information, visit farmers.gov/whip-plus.

For more information, your local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Center farmers.gov/service-locator.

USDA launches nomination period for local committee

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is encouraging America’s farmers and ranchers to nominate candidates to lead, serve and represent their community on their local county committee.

According to USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) Beauregard/Vernon County Executive Director David Vidrine, FSA will accept nominations for county committee members beginning Friday, June 15.
Producers across the country are already serving on committees where they play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of FSA, making important decisions on programs dealing with disaster and conservation, emergencies, commodity loan price support, county office employment and other agricultural issues.

“County committees are unique to FSA and allow producers to have a voice on federal farm program implementation at the local level,” said Vidrine. “It is also important that committees are comprised of members who fairly represent the diverse demographics of production agriculture for their community. I encourage all producers, including women, minority and beginning farmers and ranchers, to participate in the nomination and election process.”

Nationwide, more than 7,700 dedicated farmers and ranchers serve on FSA county committees, which consist of three to 11 members and meet once a month, or as needed. Members serve three-year terms.
Producers can nominate themselves or others. Organizations, including those representing beginning, women and minority producers, may also nominate candidates to better serve their communities. To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program and reside in the area where the election is being held.

This year, nominations and elections for Beauregard Parish will be held in local administrative area LAA3, which includes Wards 7 and 8 and Ward 3 East of Highway 171.
To be considered, a producer must sign an FSA-669A nomination form. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections, or from the Beauregard/Vernon Parish FSA office. All nomination forms for the 2018 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 1, 2018. Visit farmers.gov for more information.
Election ballots will be mailed to eligible voters beginning Nov. 5. Read more to learn about important election dates.



Elementary FFA program application due by June 30

Georgia school systems interested in implementing a pilot program for elementary agricultural education have until June 30 to submit their applications.

The pilot program, authorized under Senate Bill 330 passed unanimously by the Georgia Legislature this year, will take the FFA education model into a minimum of six elementary schools. The state’s FFA program has 42,000 student members from middle schools and high schools around the state. The elementary school pilot program will last three years and will help determine whether and how elementary agriculture education can be implemented statewide.

The application can be found online at http://bit.ly/ElemFFAapplication.

For more information, contact Georgia Agricultural Education Program Manager Chip Bridges at jbridges@doe.k12.ga.us or 404-656-8311.