Specialty crop growers seek clarification on conservation compliance backlog

By Sara Wyant

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WASHINGTON, May 12, 2015 - As the June 1 deadline draws nearer, specialty crop growers who purchase crop insurance are increasingly concerned that the forms they filed to meet new conservation compliance requirements are not being processed by USDA staff. Failure to comply could result in producers being denied crop insurance premium subsidies - making the premiums unaffordable for many.

“We are aware that a backlog for processing AD-1026 forms exists in a number of Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices in major specialty crop producing states. Although producers have provided their forms to FSA, they have not been entered into the database by USDA personnel and therefore there is no record of their proper filing,” noted the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA) in a letter sent to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack earlier this week.

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In addition, growers are concerned that there could be issues between FSA and RMA (Risk Management Agency) databases used to identify producers. “Those issues will likely lead to a significant number of mismatches on AD-1026s that are otherwise properly filed by the June 1 deadline. This again may impact the ability of crop insurance agents to verify that the mandate has been complied with,” the grower groups explained. The first sales closing dates for specialty crop policies arrive in mid-July.

The groups asked whether USDA has a process to ensure that all producers who submit their AD-1026 forms to USDA by June 1 will still be eligible for the premium subsidy. If not, the SCFBA recommends a delay in the conservation compliance requirement.

A USDA spokesperson says that “Our field offices are aware that they need to log all completed forms as quickly as possible, but failure to log the completed form by June 1 will not impact the producer. If producers have completed the AD-1026 prior to June 1, they are eligible for crop insurance support payments.”

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