Ward encourages students to apply for page program | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Ward encourages students to apply for page program

Posted: November 12, 2012 - 7:31pm

■ Crop acreage reporting

dates change

Minnesota USDA-Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that some crop acreage reporting dates have been changed to be the same as those established for crop insurance. This change only applies to forage crops that are covered by an Actual Production History (APH) crop insurance policy and for all fall-seeded small grains, regardless of crop insurance coverage.

Producers that have planted small grains this fall must go into their local FSA office and file a 2013 acreage certification by Nov. 15, 2012, to be considered timely filed. This date applies whether the crops are insured or not insured. Producers that have forage crops eligible for an APH crop insurance policy must also file a 2013 acreage certification by Nov. 15.

FSA and the USDA-Risk Management Agency (RMA) have been working to make crop acreage reporting dates consistent for all farm and insurance programs.

For more information regarding crop acreage reporting deadlines, producers are encouraged to contact the Crow Wing/Cass FSA Office at 218-829-5965 or the Aitkin-Itasca FSA Office at 218-927-2912 or visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/.

■ Farmers, ranchers urged to vote

in county committee elections

Farm Service Agency officials announced the 2012 FSA county committee elections began Nov. 5, with the mailing of ballots to eligible voters. The deadline to return the ballots to FSA offices is Dec. 3.

Eligible voters who do not receive ballots in the coming week may obtain ballots from their USDA Service Center. Dec. 3 is the last day for voters to submit ballots in person to USDA Service Centers. Ballots returned by mail must also be postmarked no later than Dec. 3. Newly elected committee members and their alternates will take office Jan. 1.

To be an eligible voter, farmers and ranchers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program. A person who is not of legal voting age, but supervises and conducts the farming operations of an entire farm also may be eligible to vote. Agricultural producers in each county submitted candidate nominations during the nomination period, which ended Aug. 1.

While FSA county committees do not approve or deny farm operating loans, they make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs and other agricultural issues. Members serve three-year terms. Nationwide, there are about 7,700 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees. Committees consist of three to 11 members that are elected by eligible producers.

More information on county committees, such as the new 2012 fact sheet and brochures, can be found on the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections.

■ Supplemental Revenue Assistance payments sign-up has begun

Minnesota USDA-Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers that sign-up for the 2011 Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) began Oct. 22, and ends June 7. The SURE program is part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill). Under the 2008 Farm Bill, SURE authorizes assistance to farmers and ranchers who suffered crop losses caused by natural disasters occurring through Sept. 30, 2011.

Any eligible producer who suffered losses during the 2011 crop year is encouraged to visit a local FSA office to learn more about the SURE program and how to apply.

As of Sept. 30, the department’s authority to operate the SURE program expired. Production losses due to disasters occurring after Sept. 30, are not eligible for disaster program coverage.

To be eligible for SURE, a farm or ranch must have:

• At least a 10-percent production loss on a crop of economic significance;

• A policy or plan of insurance under the Federal Crop Insurance Act or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) for all economically significant crops;

• Been physically located in a county that was declared a primary disaster county or contiguous county by the Secretary of Agriculture under a Secretarial Disaster Designation. Without a Secretarial Disaster Designation, individual producers may be eligible if the actual production on the farm is less than 50 percent of the normal production on the farm due to a natural disaster. A “farm” for SURE purposes means the entirety of all crop acreage in all counties that a producer planted or intended to be planted for harvest for normal commercial sale or on-farm livestock feeding, including native and improved grassland intended for haying.

Producers considered socially disadvantaged, a beginning farmer or rancher, or a limited resource farmer may be eligible for SURE without a policy or plan of insurance or NAP coverage.

Farmers and ranchers interested in signing up must do so before the June 7, 2013 deadline. For more information on the 2011 SURE program, call the Crow Wing/Cass FSA Office at 218-829-5965 or the Aitkin-Itasca FSA Office at 218-928-2912 or www.fsa.usda.gov/sure.

■ Ward encourages students

to apply for page Program

State Rep. John Ward, DFL–Brainerd, recently announced that the application process for the Minnesota House of Representatives High School Page Program is now underway.

The page program is open to high school juniors in public or private schools. Accepted applicants will spend a week at the state Capitol in St. Paul and participate in a wide variety of experiences, designed to provide them with a deep understanding of our state government.

“The Minnesota House Page Program is an excellent opportunity for students interested in our state government,” Ward said. “Very few programs offer such a meaningful opportunity to see state government in action and gain important hands-on experience.”

Among the highlights included in each student’s week at the Capitol are individual meetings with legislators designed to allow students to discuss the issues that matter most to them; experiencing the legislative process firsthand by assisting members during legislative session; participating in a mock committee session designed to develop students’ leadership skills; and to inspire them to think critically about the issues confronting our state and providing students with the opportunity to meet with constitutional officers, members of the judiciary, lobbyists and members of the media.

Students should expect to participate in scheduled program activities from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Friday.

Students interested in applying may visit the House Page Program website at http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/edprog/introletter.asp for more information and application materials. The application deadline is Nov. 19. Program participants will receive a small stipend to help defray costs.

If students have any additional questions, they may also contact Rep. Ward at 651-296-4333, or 800-683-4205, or via email at rep.john.ward@house.mn.