Coffee Shop Misconceptions
Farm programs are designed to assist farmers but often farmers have many reservations about participating in these programs. Here are a few clarities to common farm program misconceptions as explained by Myron Hartzell, Natural Resources Conservation Service grassland specialist in Dallas County, Mo.
1. I don’t want the government to know what I’m doing on my farm.
• When producers participate in farm programs the institution providing the program will need proof that you are entitled or have the proper ownership to establish the program. Programs must be accountable to the taxpayers funding them.
• There are differences between each program and not every one is federally based. Here is the breakdown: the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) are branches of the USDA. So programs available through the NRCS and FSA are federally funded. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is a state funded program. The District Soil and Water Conservation (SWCD) is run on a county bases allowing the most local input. Soil and Water programs have access to state cost-share money.
2. There are too many hoops to jump through.
• Each farm program will require paperwork, which can seem like a lot of work but when you think about the monetary or technical assistance involved, this paperwork is necessary. Program officials need to be sure you qualify for the program since it is public funds and often significant dollars. The program may also call for additional on-farm requirements for example fencing.
3. I’ll have to let everyone use my farm.
• Another misconception is that once you establish a farm program you must let the public have access to your land or that program. Participating in farm programs doesn’t mean the right of trespass. Once a program is established follow up visits may take place by agency personnel. These visits are to ensure that the producer is holding up their end of the bargain and to ensure that public dollars are being spent and maintained how they are suppose to.
4. Not everyone is treated the same way.
• A lot of times neighboring farms will participate in different programs that appear to have the same result. How you will have to accommodate your farm will depend on what program is available at the time and your eligibility. Example, three farmers installed wells and water tanks but one had to fence off a stream and another cross fence pastures. One was installed under an emergency livestock water program, one installed under a streambank improvement program and the other installed under a grazing system improvement program.
5. I don’t want the government telling me what I can plant on my farm.
• Some farm programs are designed for more than one reason. Some are designed to assist the industry by balancing commodity production. In order to balance this production some programs like the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) pay producers to idle cropland while providing conservation benefits. On a state and national scale, this helps with commodity balances.
• Conservation compliance may be a factor if annual crops are planted. To be eligible for USDA programs, excessive erosion must be controlled on cropland. Some crops such as soybeans are more erosive than others and will need to be limited in the crop rotation to reduce average soil loss.
To decide if a program will work on your farm contact your local USDA Service Center.