By Bruce Nelson
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) requires farmers and ranchers participating in our programs to submit an annual report on all cropland use on their farms. Crop insurance agents for providers approved by the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) also require these reports to ensure accuracy with your premiums and when you file claims.
Yet for years, farmers and ranchers have entered the same basic common information from their acreage reports at these two different places.
No longer. Now, farmers and ranchers can provide the common information from their acreage reports just once - - either to FSA or to their crop insurance agent - - and that common information will be securely and electronically shared with the other.
This new process is part of USDA’s Acreage Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative (ACRSI), an interagency collaboration to streamline the collection of common information to better serve our customers.
Over the past seven years, USDA implemented new ways to help farmers and ranchers conduct business with us more efficiently and effectively. Instead of farmers and ranchers juggling 54 acreage reporting dates for RMA that covered 122 crops, or 17 acreage reporting dates for FSA covering 273 crops, USDA established 15 common acreage reporting dates. These improvements, coupled with filing your common acreage report information in just one place, will not only save you time, but increase the accuracy in your crop reporting data.
More than 93 percent of all annual reported acres to FSA and RMA now are eligible for this common data reporting, and USDA is exploring adding more crops. Although you must still visit both offices to validate and sign their respective acreage reports, complete maps or provide program-specific information, the common data from your first-filed acreage report will now be available to pre-populate and accelerate completion of the second report, eliminating redundant reporting. In the coming months and years, USDA will continue to build upon this framework. In fact, already we anticipate that some insurance providers will allow reporting to include precision agriculture geospatial data from a producer’s planter along with regular crop and acreage information, and that third parties may begin designing electronic tools to assist with the reporting.
Since 2009, these are the types of targeted investments that USDA has made to help spur growth in the rural economy, make farming and ranching even better and help you achieve your personal version of the American dream. We hope you will explore participating this spring in our new streamlined acreage reporting initiative.
Bruce Nelson, a fourth-generation Montanan and wheat farmer, is the Executive Director for the USDA Farm Service Agency in Montana. He can be reached at 406.587.6872 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information regarding FSA programs, contact your local FSA office at or visit the state FSA Web site at www.fsa.usda.gov/mt.)