Parts of Iowa are still enjoying a good outlook for crops this growing season. Larry Lago is head of the Farm Service agency in Dickinson County, in north-central Iowa. Spring rains and planting were timely, and he says crops are a bit ahead of normal and the soil moisture’s just a bit below normal. Lago says farmers can hardly be blamed for not yet knowing what’s in the 2002 Farm Bill signed into law this spring. He says producers don’t know what benefits will be offered or what yield numbers will apply to crops and are just waiting to get details when they’re finally decided and made public. Monday was the first deadline in the new Farm Bill, for signing up to participate in programs for small grains, like wheat, rye and oats. Producers who didn’t make that deadline will simply have to pay a late-filing fee. Lago says the most important deadline may be coming up later this summer. Changes in ownership, leasing or operation agreements must be reported to the FSA office so that farm remains eligible for payments under the farm bill. July 15th is the next deadline, for some other crops including corn, alfalfa and soybeans. The so-called “Freedom to Farm” Bill of 1996 made crop reporting a voluntary option but the new Farm Bill makes it mandatory.
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