Ladies, mark your calendars. The annual Labette Women in Agriculture Conference has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 5, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Altamont. The day will open with state Rep. Richard Proehl and other programs will share information about farm business records, tax law changes, local bird watching, Walk Kansas, land lease laws and Safe Haven Outreach. As always, the conference is free and includes lunch and some great door prizes provided by Labette County merchants. To make reservations, call our office at (620) 784-5431 or Wildcat Extension District office in Altamont at 784-5337. You may also email kitra.cooper@ks.usda.gov or ludwigk@ksu.edu.

The 2008 Farm Bill — originally scheduled to expire in 2012 — was extended through the remainder of 2013. This is not what we expected, and we’re still anticipating that the passage of a new farm bill that will make big changes to the farm programs as we know them. The 2008 Farm Bill extension did reinstate the DCP (direct and counter-cyclical payment) program for one more year. Signup for the 2013 DCP program is scheduled to begin Feb. 19 and end Aug. 2. We will publish more information as it becomes available. The farm bill extension also reinstated all conservation programs, so if you’ve been thinking about adding some wildlife habitat areas or buffer strips to your land, now is a great time to start working on these.

We are still accepting 2013 grass and wheat acreage reports. Full acreage reports are an eligibility requirement for several programs, including DCP. Although we are past the reporting deadlines for both grass and wheat, producers can still make reports, with no penalty, through May 31. The deadline to report spring-planted crops is July 15 and late fees will apply to this deadline, so mark your calendars.

The 2011 SURE (supplemental revenue) program opened last fall and closes on June 7. This program assists farm producers who suffered a revenue loss in 2011 due to crop failures. To be eligible for this program, crop producers must have insured all crops of economic significance in 2011.

Our staff is currently working on these individual workbooks, and we have issued a few payments. If producers meet insurance eligibility requirements according to the RMA insurance data we receive, we will automatically run a workbook. If you qualify for a payment, we will call you to come in and sign the required paperwork. If you do not qualify for payment, we will notify you by mail. Producers who call to have their name put on the list will have their workbooks run first.

The USDA claims process for Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who allege discrimination by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in past decades is still open through March 25. To read the secretary’s news release issued in September 2012 in both English and Spanish, you may find it on the web at www.usda.gov and click on Newsroom. If you, or someone you know, believes the USDA has improperly denied you farm loan benefits between 1981 and 2000 because you are Hispanic or female, you may be eligible to apply for compensation. If you think you might be eligible to file a claim, access the Farm and Rancher Call Center or Website at 1-888-508-4429 or www.farmerclaims.gov. Claims must be filed by March 25 to be considered for cash payment or loan forgiveness.

For more information about this, or any of our programs, call us at 784-5431, email kitra.cooper@ks.usda.gov, or check online at www.fsa.usda.gov/ks. Our office is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 115 W. Fourth, Altamont.

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