Whether you're a farmer or not, the FSA is important to you.
Larry Lago, local Farm Service Agency for Dickinson and Emmet counties, told Estherville Rotarians Thursday about the agency's duties and how it makes life better for farmers - and everyone else.
Since the retirement of
Larry Lago, FSA director for Emmet and Dickinson counties, told Estherville Rotarians Thursday about the programs the agency administers.
EDN Photo by Mike Tidemann
Emmet County FSA director Larry Niles, Lago has overseen the agency's operations in both counties.
The role of the FSA in farming is comprehensive and vast. Whether it's making facilities loans, financing equipment, financing conservation projects or giving commodity loans, the FSA is there, helping farmers with whatever their needs may be.
Farmers who may not qualify for traditional loans might come to the FSA for farm ownership and farm operating loans. A customers can either get a loan directly from the FSA or the loan might go through the bank.
Lago said the FSA also makes youth loans and has targeted lending money for young and beginning farmers.
Sometimes the question is asked why have farm programs.
Well, Lago said the original goal was to have a sound ag economy so there would be reliable, affordable agriculture for the nation. It also helps with the US balance of trade since the government has an interest in being a reliable trader of ag commodities.
And then there's the impact the FSA has on the local economy. Lago said over the last two weeks the FSA has issued $9.7 million in annual payments in the two counties. The new farm bill is expected to no longer have direct payments to farmers, about $7.8 million locally.
Just like a lot of other government agencies, the agency has had its own share of belt-tightening.
The FSA in Iowa decided to combine office management, closing three offices in southern Iowa and reducing staff 30 percent overall since the last farm bill, Lago said.
Another issue with which the FSA deals is the nation's agriculture and food security.
Lago said after Sept. 11, 2001, the FSA has maintained a nationwide registry of foreign investment in ag land with stiff penalties for foreign farmland owners who fail to report land transfers. The agency also maintains a complete database of fertilizer and locker holding facilities in the event of disaster. Lago answered a number of questions, including the impact of planting dates on crop insurance claims. Lago said because of this year's early spring farmers wanted to plant early, which disqualified them from crop insurance. And, while farmers in Dickinson and Emmet counties didn't have the severe drought of other counties, next year could be a concern if soil isn't replenished with moisture over the winter.
As for yields, Lago said corn and soybeans appear to both be off 15-20 percent from average yields, with pasture and orage crops suffering more.