July 15 deadline for crop reports

From Staff Reports
   Farmers have until July 15 to file a 2003 crop acreage report on spring seeded crops and until July 31 on burley tobacco. The information, which lists the type of crops grown, location, and the number of acres planted, must be filed with the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.
   Farmers and landowners who participate in the FSA commodity programs such as the Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program, the Conservation Reserve Program and the Noninsured Assistance Program are required to certify their crop acres.
   Acreages also are used to calculate the amount of financial assistance producers can receive through various disaster programs.
   Farmers who are not participating in a current FSA program are still encouraged to certify their acres with the FSA office. The report will maintain an official history of crop production for their land and may help establish eligibility in the event a farmer wants to participate in future programs.
   Producers needing more information about crop reporting, or those wishing to set up an appointment to report their acres, should contact the local Farm Service Agency office at 542-2341.
   The U.S. Department of Agriculture is continuing to modernize its data recording methods by transitioning to electronic farm information on computerized maps. Crop acreages reported by producers historically were plotted and labeled on large aerial photographs maintained in each county FSA office.
   Full fields, partial fields, and the corresponding crops were manually drawn to scale on photographic maps and updated annually.
   Lines and labels often would get more difficult to read as more information was written on limited map space. Today, by digitizing maps and recording producer data electronically, farm information can be displayed in multiple layers and integrated as desired.
   The computerized system also will be compatible with mapped data from other agencies. The USDA is intent on expanding information sharing which will lead to a clear and more comprehensive understanding of farm conditions and variables that exist.
   With the aid of the new statistical information, producers and agribusiness firms will be better able to boost farm production and agricultural effectiveness, according to FSA.