The agricultural mediation program helps agricultural producers and their creditors resolve disputes confidentially in a non-adversarial setting, thus avoiding the traditional process of litigation, appeals, bankruptcy, and foreclosure. This is crucial as America's family farmers continue to deal with a fluctuating economy, low commodity prices, and a seemingly endless rash of natural disasters.
Areas of disputes the Mediation Program specializes into include farm loans, price support payments, wetland determinations, conservation compliance, and Conservation Reserve Program payment eligibility/limitation.
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides direct and guaranteed loans to beginning farmers and ranchers who are unable to obtain financing from commercial credit sources. Each fiscal year, the Agency targets a portion of its direct and guaranteed farm ownership (FO) and operating loan (OL) funds to beginning farmers and ranchers.
FSA encourages beginning farmers and ranchers to learn more about the business of aspects of farming or ranching. The Cultivating Success™ Program
is one educational option in Washington State. It is a collaboration of Washington State University, the University of Idaho, and Rural Roots. Courses are offered in partnership with county Extension offices.
CRP is a voluntary program for agricultural producers to help safeguard environmentally sensitive land. Producers enrolled in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers to improve the quality of water, control soil erosion, and enhance wildlife habitat. In return, CCC provides participants rental payments and cost-share assistance. Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years. CRP was authorized by section 1231 of the Food Security Act of 1985, as amended (Pub. L. 99-198)(16 U.S.C. 3831, et seq.).
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a voluntary land retirement program that helps agricultural producers protect environmentally sensitive land, decrease erosion, restore wildlife habitat, and safeguard ground and surface water.
The program is a partnership among producers; tribal, state, and federal governments; and, in some cases, private groups. CREP is an offshoot of the country's largest private-lands environmental improvement program - the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
CREP in Washington State
The program is tailored in Washington State to meet the States goals of restoring and enhancing salmon habitat. Through CREP, agricultural landowners can receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving vegetation on eligible land. The Washington Conservation Commission
represents the State in the federal-state partnership.
Debt for Nature Program
The Debt for Nature Program, also known as the Debt Cancellation Conservation Contract Program, is available to persons with FSA loans secured by real estate who may qualify for cancellation of a portion of their FSA indebtedness in exchange for a conservation contract with a term of 50, 30, or 10 years. A conservation contract is a voluntary legal agreement that restricts the type and amount of development and farming practices that may take place on portions of a landowner's property. Contracts may be established on marginal cropland and other environmentally sensitive lands for conservation, recreation, and wildlife purposes.
The Direct and Counter-cyclical Payment Program (DCP) provides payments to eligible producers on farms enrolled for the 2008 through 2012 crop years. There are two types of DCP payments - direct payments and counter-cyclical payments. Both are computed using the base acres and payment yields established for the farm. DCP is authorized by the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill) and is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA).
As authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill (Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008), producers on eligible farms may elect to participate in the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program.
Under the ACRE Program, producers may receive revenue-based payments as an alternative to receiving price-based counter-cyclical (CC) payments.
"Direct" farm loans are made by FSA with Government funds. We also service these loans and provide our Direct loan customers with supervision and credit counseling so they have a better chance for success. Farm Ownership, Operating, Emergency and Youth loans are the main types of loans available under the Direct program. Direct loan funds are also set aside each year for loans to minority applicants and beginning farmers (see links below). To apply for a Direct loan, contact your local FSA office
. For Direct loan interest rates, click here
A loan made to eligible applicants to purchase, enlarge, or make capital improvements to family farms, or to promote soil and water conservation and protection. Maximum loan amount is $300,000. A percentage of direct farm ownership loan funds is targeted for beginning farmers and socially disadvantaged applicants as mandated by sections 346 and 355 of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (Pub. L. 87-128) (CONACT) (7 U.S.C. 1994 and 7 U.S.C. 2003), respectively. The statutory authority for direct farm ownership loans is section 302 of the CONACT (7 U.S.C. 1922).
A loan made to an eligible applicant to assist with the financial costs of operating a farm. Maximum loan amount is $300,000. A percentage of direct operating loan funds is targeted for beginning farmers as mandated sections 346 and 355 of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (Pub. L. 87-128) (CONACT) (7 U.S.C. 1994 and 7 U.S.C. 2003), respectively. The statutory authority for direct operating loans is section 311 of the CONACT (7 U.S.C. 1911).
ELAP was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill to provide emergency relief to producers of livestock, honeybees, and farm-raised fish and covers losses from disaster such as adverse weather or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires not adequately covered by any other disaster program.
More information about ELAP can be found here
USDA Farm Service Agency's (FSA) Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) provides emergency funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures in periods of severe drought. Funding for ECP is appropriated by Congress.
Loans are available to eligible applicants who have incurred substantial financial losses from a disaster. Maximum outstanding loan amount is $500,000. The statutory authority for emergency loans is section 321 of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (Pub. L. 87-128) (7 U.S.C. 1961).
Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) provides payments to eligible owners of nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) land in order to carry out emergency measures to restore land damaged by a natural disaster.
The FWP is a voluntary program intended to restore up to 1 million acres of farmable wetlands and associated buffers by improving the land's hydrology and vegetation under the Conservation Reserve Program.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Farm Storage Facility Loan Program (FSFL) provides low-interest financing for producers to build or upgrade farm storage and handling facilities. The FSA is authorized to implement the program through USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC).
FSA guaranteed loans provide lenders (e.g., banks, Farm Credit System institutions, credit unions) with a guarantee of up to 95 percent of the loss of principal and interest on a loan. Farmers and ranchers apply to an agricultural lender, which then arranges for the guarantee. The FSA guarantee permits lenders to make agricultural credit available to farmers who do not meet the lender's normal underwriting criteria.
Indian Tribal Land Acquisition Program
A loan available to Indian tribes for purchasing privately held lands within their respective reservations boundaries. The statutory authority for Indian Tribal Land Acquisition loans is Pub. L. 91-229 (25 U.S.C 490).
Land Contract (LC) Guarantee Program
The Land Contract Guarantee Program provides a valuable tool to transfer farm real estate to the next generation of farmers. Guarantees will be offered to the owner of a farm who wishes to sell real estate through a land contract to a beginning farmer or a farmer who is a member of a socially disadvantaged group. The guarantee provides an incentive to sell to individuals in these groups as it reduces the financial risk to the seller due to buyer default on the contract payments. Guarantees can be used for financing the purchase of a farm with a purchase price up to $500,000. Two types of guarantees are available: a prompt payment guarantee for up to three amortized installments, or a standard guarantee of the unpaid principal. (Read More)
LFP was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill to provide assistance to livestock producers for forage losses due to drought and losses due to wildfire on public lands.
More information about LFP can be found here
LIP was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill to provide assistance to livestock producers for livestock deaths from disaster events, in excess of normal mortality.
More information about LIP can be found here
The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorizes the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC) through September 1, 2014, or until the new Margin Protection Program is in place. The MILC supports the dairy industry by providing direct counter-cyclical style payments to milk producers on a monthly basis when the Boston Federal Milk Marketing Order Class I price for fluid milk falls below the benchmark of $16.94 per hundredweight (cwt.). The 2008 Farm Bill changed the $16.94 per cwt of milk trigger for MILC payments to a variable trigger that may be adjusted monthly for variations in feed costs above $7.35 per cwt of a 16-percent protein feed ration. Monthly MILC payment rates will be determined and payments issued to eligible dairy operations when the Boston Class I price falls below the feed-cost-adjusted trigger. Certain per year per operation eligibility pound limits also apply. (See Factsheet)
USDA's Farm Service Agency's (FSA) Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occurs due to natural disasters.
Provide producers interim financing at harvest time to meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are typically at harvest-time lows. Allowing producers to store production at harvest facilitates more orderly marketing of commodities throughout the year. Marketing assistance loans for covered commodities are nonrecourse because the commodities are pledged as loan collateral and producers have the option of delivering the pledged collateral to CCC as full payment for the loan at maturity. A producer who is eligible to obtain a loan, but who agrees to forgo the loan, may obtain an LDP. The LDP rate equals the amount by which the applicable loan rate where the commodity is stored exceeds the alternative loan repayment rate for the respective commodity.
State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE)
The State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) initiative aims to provide wildlife habitat for high value species on private land. The initiative is a state and federal partnership designed to meet state wildlife priorities. It is part of the Farm Service Agency's Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and is implemented in cooperation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. SAFE is a voluntary program.
Cooperating landowners receive rental payments, establishment and maintenance cost-share and incentive payments in return for entering a contract to provide specific wildlife habitat.
SURE was authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill and covers crop revenue losses from quantity or quality deficiencies only those counties and contiguous counties declared disaster areas by the Agriculture Secretary or in cases where the overall production loss exceeds 50 percent.
The Transition Incentives Program provides up to two additional CRP annual rental payments to a retired or retiring owner or operator of land under an expiring CRP contract if the land is sold or leased to a non-family member beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher for the purpose of returning some or all of the land to production using sustainable grazing or crop production methods.
TAA provides technical assistance and cash benefits to eligible producers of raw agricultural commodities, such as fish or blueberries, after an associated industry group petitions the Secretary for assistance. If the national average price in the most recent marketing year for a commodity is less than 80 percent of the national average price in the preceding 5 marketing years as a result of increased imports of that commodity, producers may be eligible for TAA assistance.
TAP was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and provides partial reimbursement to orchardists and nursery tree growers for replanting, salvage, pruning, debris removal and land preparation if losses due to natural disasters exceed 15 percent.
More information about TAP can be found here
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) makes operating loans of up to $5,000 to eligible individual rural youths age 10 through 20 to finance income-producing, agriculture-related projects. The project must be of modest size, educational, and initiated, developed and carried out by rural youths participating in 4-H clubs, FFA or a similar organization.