urgent news re USDA Insurance Programs

Montana State Beekeepers – Greg Fullerton asked that this be passed along to the membership.  This is a time sensitive issue, with action to be taken by June 1:
The following items are URGENT, sent from the California State Beekeepers. CSBA members will already have received them and, as this pertains only to the US:

PRIOR REQUIREMENTS TO BE ABLE TO ACCESS USDA INSURANCE PROGRAMS

The first 4 attachments have to do with these requirements, and THEY ARE TIME-SENSITIVE.  Further, Kevin Rader at Beekeeping Insurance Services has been spearheading this effort for beekeepers throughout the country and can be helpful if you need questions answered.  You can call him at 888-537-7088, but he specifically made the following points in an email to me today:

1 – This is for commercial, sideline and hobbyists, not just commercial although they most likely get the biggest benefit because of their size, but I could make an argument that a hobbyist gets the same help on a proportionate scale.  This is for ALL USDA programs including FSA programs like NAP & ELAP.

2 – Even if the beekeeper has NO interest in a government program at this time, you never know what happens 1 year, 2 years, 5 years down the road, and having this form done in a timely manner is super important.  You might say, “Well, if it’s 5 years down the road, we’ll worry about it then”, but you would still need to complete the new form by 6/1.  Bottom line: it doesn’t hurt to have this form on file with the FSA office.

Now, here’s the actual email set from the government:

Hello, as we continue to encourage producers to file a complete AD 1026 with Farm Service Agency by June 1, 2015, we want to share with you a request made by our collective leadership which highlights the availability of the regulations for your review titled RULE REFERENCE materials (attached), and which also transmit updated Frequently Asked Questions (attached) and Conservation Compliance and Crop Insurance Fact Sheet which includes explanation of “affiliated persons” (attached).

We have learned that in 2014 the majority of producers (58%) signing up for crop insurance in California did not have a conservation compliance certification (AD-1026) on file.  In 2014, 13% of the policies were new to crop insurance.  Since conservation compliance for crop insurance premium subsidy is new, it may take more effort to help these producers understand the process so that they can maintain the crop insurance subsidy.  We appreciate your support to get the word out.

If you have any questions please let me know.

Luana Kiger, USDA-NRCS, Special Assistant to STC
430 G Street #4164
Davis, CA 95616-4164
Voice:  530-792-5661
Fax:  530-792-5790
Email:  Luana.Kiger@ca.usda.gov

Subject: RMA, FSA and NRCS Leaders Ask for Continued Help in Ensuring All Meet Conservation Compliance

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for helping to successfully implement the Farm Bill over this last year. Your work makes a difference in the lives of millions of American farmers, ranchers and growers. Our partners, stakeholders, legislators and the press have all praised your outstanding work.

And we still need your help.

Today we made available for the public an interim final rule that sets forth the regulations for the conservation compliance provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill that field offices have been implementing.  The changes in the regulation implement the linkage between conservation compliance provisions and federal crop insurance premium subsidies; amend the provisions for the Mitigation Banking Program that enables third parties to hold easements; and provide for other minor technical adjustments.  You will find a summary of the regulation’s changes online here<http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_Federal_Notices/conservation_compliance.pdf>.   The interim final rule does not change the conservation compliance provisions that apply to programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The conservation compliance provisions expand our customer base.  We are responsible for providing timely assistance to help ensure that persons seeking federal crop insurance premium subsidies remain compliant with Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) provisions.  Producers wanting crop insurance support for the 2016 reinsurance year, which begins July 1, 2015, must have a certification form, AD-1026, on file with FSA by June 1, 2015.   We cannot extend the deadline. While we have extended program deadlines in the past, this one cannot be changed. It is important that everyone realize this deadline is firm.  Many farmers, ranchers or growers already have an AD-1026 on file since it’s required for participation in other USDA programs such as marketing assistance loans, farm storage facility loans and disaster assistance. However, some producers who only receive crop insurance support, but do not participate in other USDA programs, may not.

In addition to persons seeking USDA program benefits, any affiliated person<http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/newsReleases?area=newsroom&subject=landing&topic=pfs&newstype=prfactsheet&type=detail&item=pf_20141030_consv_en_helwc_afl.html> who has a separate farming interest as an owner, operator or other producer must also complete, sign and file form AD-1026. We are still hearing from stakeholder groups that producers who are newly subject to conservation compliance provisions are confused about affiliated person rules.  Refer questions regarding who should sign the AD-1026 to FSA. Information is also provided on the form AD-1026 Appendix<http://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/efcommon/eFileServices/eForms/AD1026.PDF>.

The June 1 deadline is specific to people seeking the federal crop insurance premium subsidy and does not apply to people seeking FSA loan, disaster or other assistance or FSA and NRCS conservation program benefits. For these programs, the form AD-1026 is filed as part of the process to determine eligibility under those programs.

Here’s how you can help. We need to focus our outreach efforts on those who want to receive federal crop insurance premium subsidies who are not familiar with conservation compliance.  Premium subsidies provide key benefits to many producers, especially those with specialty crops, vineyards and orchards. Often producers cannot secure their operating loans without insurance and cannot afford the insurance without the premium subsidy, making it imperative we continue our messaging about the June 1 deadline and sharing information across all agricultural sectors to ensure producers are in compliance.

Our goal is to make sure all producers have the opportunity to continue their crop insurance program participation while complying with the Act. Nationally, FSA, RMA and NRCS continue to work with stakeholder groups on outreach and are working on additional guidance to clarify provisions where necessary. RMA is working with crop insurance providers to help reach out to producers who have not yet filed the form AD-1026.

At the local level, we ask you to continue your outreach efforts. We have a wealth of resources available on USDA’s Conservation Compliance webpage<http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/national/programs/farmbill/?cid=stelprdb1257899>, including frequently asked questions, fact sheets and other resources. Each agency will provide additional guidance for how to accelerate outreach efforts.

If you have questions, please reach out to your agency conservation compliance contact:

RMA, Richard Flournoy, (202) 690-2369, richard.flournoy@rma.usda.gov
NRCS, Leslie Deavers, (202) 690-4616, leslie.deavers@wdc.usda.gov
FSA, Joseph Fuchtman, (202) 260-9146, joseph.fuchtman@wdc.usda.gov

We’re proud to stand alongside you as we continue to implement the Farm Bill. Thank you for your outstanding work.

Brandon Willis – Administrator, Risk Management Agency                        
Val Dolcini –  Administrator, Farm Service Agency                        
Jason Weller – Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service

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Save the Date – 2015 Convention

The Montana State Beekeepers Association will meet October 15-17, 2015, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Great Falls, Montana.  We will be celebrating our 100th year!  Please save the date.  Details will follow on this page.  You can be automatically notified of such details by entering your e-mail address into the “Follow this Blog” box at the top of this page.  Questions?  courtney (at) glaciercountyhoney (dot) com

214 Montana State Beekeepers Association CONVENTION Information

The 2014 convention will be held at the Yogo Inn in Lewistown, October 16-18. If you would like the registration materials faxed or emailed to you, please request through Courtney Fullerton, courtney (at) glaciercountyhoney (dot) com or 888-451-8669. We apologize for not being able to post them on the website – we are having technical issues. We hope to see you!

Western Apiculture Society meeting in Missoula! September 17-20

Below please find links to the Agenda and Workshop/Short Course Schedule for the 37th meeting of the Western Apiculture Society, organized this year by Dr. Jerry Bromenshank. The meeting will be held in Missoula September 17-20, with a Honey Festival open to the public on Saturday, September 20.
2nd_International_Workshop_WAS_Agenda_Sept_2014_UM (1)
Workshops_and_Short_Courses_8_18_2014_v2

Save the Date! – UPDATED

The 2014 convention of the Montana State Beekeepers Association will be October 16-18 in Lewistown, Montana, at the Yogo Inn. Registration materials will be sent in late summer, but for now, mark your calendar!

National Honey Board Seeks Nominees for Board Positions

Please see the linked press release from the National Honey Board.

Announcement: Wyoming Bee College Conference

The University of Wyoming Laramie County Extension office is hosting theWyoming Bee College Conference at Laramie County Community College, Cheyenne, Wyoming, over the weekend of March 22-23. This is two days of hands on workshops and lectures, offering two educational concurrent sessions. This conference is open to everyone and anyone wanting to learn more about bee health, beekeeping, native bees, bumble bees and value added bee products. Eventbrite.com for registration 

The first day session one is for beginner’s or current beekeepers wanting to improve their skills with an all-day hands-on hive workshop (bring your bee suit if you have one) taught by local beekeeper Michael Jordan (A Bee Friendly Company).  The second session on Saturday will cover advanced beekeeping topics and issues.  Several of the advanced classes will be taught by our keynote speaker, USDA ARS Utah Bee Lab entomologist Dr. James Strange.

The second day, Sunday, March 23, will cover marketing finding a place for your product hands on workshop for value added products on bees wax and a class on making mead. Native Bees and building an Orchard Masson hive.  There will be a class on dealing with drought and still have flowers for bees taught by Nancy Loomis. 

The conference cost of $50 for both days includes two lunches, snacks and a banquet dinner on Saturday night, or you can register for one day at $35/day. 

Go to eventbrite.com Wyoming Bee College to register.

Our speaker line up: 

Keynote speaker and instructor Entomologist Dr. James Strange, from the USDA Agriculture Research Station at the Utah Bee Lab.

Michael Jordan, Beekeeper, entrepreneur, world traveler, owner operator of A Bee Friendly Company, Cheyenne Wyoming.  Michael will be teaching the beginning bee class or helping new beekeepers on Saturday start to finish how to become a beekeeper with a hands-on hive portion.  Bring your bee suit if you have one.

Terry Booth, retired USDA ARS researcher, owner operator of Cheyenne Honey.  Terry will give insight and advise of 40 years of beekeeping in Wyoming.

Brenna Marsicek, University of Wyoming, Berry Bio-Diversity Center, Brenna will discuss the importance of native bees, their habitat how to help them and identification.  Brenna will also teach a class on the orchard mason bee with a build your own orchard mason bee hive.

Gayle Wilson, owner artist of Thin-Air-Studio, director of Works of Wyoming. Gayle will be teaching the value added class and sharing her recipes for lotions, lip balms, furniture wax, and encaustic art wax as well as making a product to take home.

Cole Ehmke, Agriculture Economics and Extension Specialist, UW, where and how to get your products noticed and sold, beyond the basics of marketing.

Polly Cross, Wyoming Department of Agriculture, protecting your bees why it’s important to register your bee hives with the department of agriculture.

Jeff Edwards, Pesticide Specialist at Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station, Lingle, Wyoming. Current information on the EPA’s new rules on pesticide labeling and what a beekeeper can do.

Nancy Loomis owner operator of Antique Central in Cheyenne, Wyoming where she developed an amazing rain garden during the severe drought of 2012, flourished and supports a wide range of good insects and how you can do the same. For more information contact Catherine Wissner at307-633-4383.

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