Corn barn

A corn barn stands in fields west of Highway 15 in Nebraska.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds Nebraska producers to complete crop acreage reports by the upcoming July 15 deadline.

“To make sure you’re eligible for many USDA programs, you need to file an accurate crop acreage report by the applicable deadline,” State Executive Director Nancy Johner said. “Our FSA staff is standing by to help you with your acreage reports, including providing maps.”

The July 15 acreage reporting deadline applies to common spring-planted crops, such as corn, soybeans and grain sorghum, as well as hay and Conservation Reserve Program acres.

Due to the pandemic, FSA has implemented acreage reporting flexibilities. FSA can work with producers to file timely acreage reports by phone, email, online tools and virtual meetings. Some county FSA offices are open for in-person appointments, but customers first must call to schedule an appointment.

FSA offices also are using Microsoft Teams software to virtually meet with producers to review maps and documents for certification. Producers who want to schedule a virtual appointment can download the Microsoft Teams app on their smart phone or tablet and call the FSA office for an appointment. Producers also can use Microsoft Teams from their personal computer without downloading software.

Johner said acreage certification plans may vary between county offices, but in general customers can assist FSA by paying close attention to email or mail from their county FSA office that outlines the process put in place for 2020 certification, and then follow the requested steps. Offices are using a variety of tools to receive completed maps and other certification documents, including drop boxes, mail, email or through commercially available free and secure online tools such as Box for file sharing and OneSpan for eSignature solutions.

The following exceptions apply to acreage reporting dates:

- If the crop has not been planted by the acreage reporting date, the acreage must be reported no later than 15 calendar days after planting is completed.

- If a producer has not timely filed an acreage report, the producer may file the acreage report within 30 days of the acreage reporting date. Because of the pandemic, late fees will be waived if filed within the 30 days.

FSA is also providing additional flexibilities for producers to file on acres with failed crops or crops that were prevented from planting because of extreme weather events. For insured crops, producers who timely filed a prevented planted claim with the reinsurance company but filed a Notice of Loss (CCC-576) form after the deadline will be considered timely filed for FSA purposes. For uninsured crops, producers may start a Notice of Loss by calling their FSA county office.

Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) policy holders should note that the acreage reporting date for NAP-covered crops is the earlier of the dates listed above or 15 calendar days before grazing or harvesting of the crop begins.

When producers are working with FSA staff – either in-person or virtually – they also can take care of applications for other FSA programs, including the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. A CFAP Call Center is available for producers who would like additional one-on-one support with the CFAP application process. Call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance.

Applications also can be submitted for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) for 2018 and 2019, as well as other disaster assistance programs that may be able to assist producers at this time.

For questions, call your FSA county office. To locate your local FSA office visit farmers.gov/service-center-locator.

All USDA service centers are open for business, including some that are open to visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only. All service center visitors wishing to conduct business with FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other service center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment.

Service centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors also may be required to wear a face covering during their appointment, depending on local health department directives.

Field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. Program delivery staff will be in the office, and they will be working with our producers in office, by phone and using online tools.