“Opportunities for those in agriculture production make it the most optimistic and promising business.”

That had to be the synopsis of the presentation “Helping Farmers To Provide Food, Feed, Fuel And Fiber For The World.”

It’s the objective and purpose of the Kansas Farm Service Agency (FSA), according to David Schemm, FSA state executive director.

Speaking at a Farm Profit Seminar in Baldwin City, Schemm said, “By the year 2050, the world’s population will number 9.7 billion. That means we will need to double our food production to feed a growing population.”

A Sharon Springs farmer by profession, Schemm opened remarks showing state drought monitors of this year compared to 1918. Despite what many have considered burdensomely high moisture with rain and snow this winter, there are now no drought conditions.

A year earlier the state ranged from abnormally dry across the northern county tier to extreme drought in the southwest. Central Kansas counties had from moderate to severe drought conditions.

Moisture supplies point to enhanced crop growing conditions for 2019, at least for a strong beginning.

David Schemm

Clarifying exactly what FSA is, Schemm said, “We’re a farmer-facing agency serving America’s agriculture community. We’re rural America’s engine for economic development.

“Our focus is making sure we deliver programs to farmers and ranchers most effectively and efficiently as possible,” he promised.

Nationwide, FSA has more than 11,000 staff in 51 state offices leading 2,100 county offices.

With the state office in Manhattan which can be contacted at 785-539-3531, the Kansas FSA has 465 employees in 96 service centers.

A handful of farm programs are offered to Kansas agriculture producers, the speaker informed. Topping the services are agriculture risk coverage (ARC) and price loss coverage (PLC).

Others include market facilitation (MFP), emergency livestock assistance (ELAP), livestock indemnity (LIP), non-insurable crop disaster ((NAP) and dairy margin protection (DMP).

Farm loans are a big part of FSA-provided opportunities. There are direct farm ownership and operating loans as well as guaranteed farm ownership and operating loans.

Additionally, FSA offers direct and guaranteed microloans, emergency loans, youth loans and conservation loans.

“FSA has loan programs and business tools to match your specific needs,” Schemm said.

Procedure in developing the programs was reviewed by Schemm. “Congress votes to set the motion,” he said. “Effectively efficient programs are built by FSA officials traveling the country and meeting with farmers and industry groups.”

Rules, policies and procedures are developed with a public comment period of about 90 days.

Of course, infrastructure must be built by software development, program manuals, forms and a skilled workforce.

“We have expert support service centers to train our staff on how to implement programs,” Schemm assured.

“FSA is using new tools, traditional and ‘new-media’ to reach farmers,” the speaker pointed out. “We are dedicated to keeping agriculture producers informed. Once the program is in progress, we provide oversight to ensure funds are being used as prescribed by Congress.”

Kansas reached over $1 billion in outstanding loans in 2018, an increase of 11 percent from 2018. “Kansas is fourth behind Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa in direct loan dollars,” Schemm noted.

The 2018 Farm Bill increased direct operating loans to $400,000 and guaranteed operating loans to $1.75 million.

Direct ownership loan limit was expanded to $600,000, and guaranteed ownership loan limit went up to $1.75 million.

“Delinquency rates in January hit a nine-year high,” Schemm said.

He queried if this is result of reporting associated with the government shutdown, or a pulse on the agriculture economy?

Agriculture risk and price loss coverage programs provide farm payments when commodity revenue is below expected income. “New elections start in 2019, and are locked in two years,” Schemm explained.

“Farms with cropland seeded to grass from 2009 through 2017 are ineligible for the risk and loss payments from 2019 through 2023,” he said.

Assistance is offered producers with low yields, inventory loss or prevented planting due to natural disaster through a noninsured program.

“The livestock indemnity program pays producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality,” Schemm said. “This includes injury to livestock caused by adverse weather or attack by animals reintroduced into the wild by the government.

“There is also emergency assistance for losses due to disease, and adverse conditions such as blizzards and wildfires,” he added.

Coverage for dairymen offers protection when the milk price falls below the average feed bill.

“The market facilitation program provides direct payments to producers who have been negatively impacted by foreign government tariffs,” Schemm said.

Eighty six counties were eligible for livestock forage assistance due to the drought in 2018. “More than $40.6 million have been paid to 11,429 applicants,” according to the official.

There are 168,949 farms in Kansas with 72,746 farm operators managing 29.5 million cropland acres.

Of concern, Kansas has 15 million highly erodible acres, yet 15.8 million non-highly erodible acres.

A total of 21,261 farms have 36,886 CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) contracts totaling 2.02 million acres. “Kansas FSA annual rental payments reached $85.29 million last year,” Schemm said.

“The CRP acreage cap increases to 27 million acres by 2023,” Schemm pointed out. “Annual rental payment is limited to 85 percent of the county soil rental rate for general enrollment.”

Top crops in Kansas include: grassland, 17 million acres; wheat, 7.4 million; corn, 5.2 million; soybeans, 4.5 million, and sorghum, 2.3 million.

“For more than 80 years, FSA has delivered on USDA’s promised to do right and feed everyone,” Schemm said. “Farmers are our number one priority. We’re here when and where farmers need us.”