Farm programs are designed to assist farmers but often farmers have many reservations about participating in these programs. Here are a few clarifications to common farm program misconceptions as explained by Myron Hartzell, Natural Resources Conservation Service grassland specialist in Dallas County, Mo.
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. This could lead to the misconception that the government will know too much about your farm.
• 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. Other agencies receive funding through state taxes including Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
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. The program may also call for additional on-farm requirements for example fencing.
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. 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 how they are suppose to.
Not everyone is treated the same way.
• A lot of times neighboring farms will participate in different programs that have the same result. How you will have to accommodate your farm will depend on what program is available and your eligibility.
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 plant acreage in a certain crop. What crop is planted is determined on a nationwide scale to help with commodity balance.
The best way to decide if a program will work on your farm is to contact your local USDA Service Center. For contact information to your local USDA Service Center turn to page 25.