Dear Friend of Agriculture,
As the number of COVID-19 cases has risen significantly across the United States and in Ohio over the last several weeks, the USDA has made the decision to adjust our operating status in USDA Service Centers that are experiencing elevated rates of coronavirus community spread. Since the pandemic began, USDA has been driven by data as we have increased access to our offices, but now the data is reflecting that a change is necessary and we must temporarily step back and limit in-person access in several locations across the US and in Ohio. This will be effective starting on Tuesday, December 1, 2020. This decision is based on the latest data to protect our employees and customers from rising COVID cases both in the community and in our workforce. USDA will continually review data to determine the status of service centers and receiving visitors in impacted counties.
Late Wednesday, November 25, 2020, Under Secretary Northey spoke about this along with the FSA Administrator and NRCS Acting Chief to the SEDs and State Conservationists about these phase changes as this will impact both FSA and NRCS Service Centers. I am asking for your assistance to help us publicize through all available communication and social media channels that your organization offers to get the word out about the change in several “USDA Service Center Operating Status” to Ohio farmers. This is not intended as a permanent step. As community conditions improve, any county USDA Service Center that meets the following FPAC Reopening Criteria may request to reopen to visitors to conduct business in-person by appointment only, once again.
What does this mean for Ohio FSA offices?
This means, the status of FSA Service Centers across Ohio will be different depending on local, county conditions. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business should call ahead to confirm their FSA office is able to accept in-person appointments and schedule their appointment before visiting, no walk-in appointments are allowed. Service Centers that are open for in-person appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Customers who choose this option for service are required to wear a facing covering (as are our employees) during their appointment and are asked to help maintain appropriate social distancing. Our program delivery staff will continue to be in the office, and they will be working with our producers in the office, by phone, email and using online tools.
FSA Service Center Status:
Our FSA offices remain open for business, as we have throughout the global pandemic response. Our staff continues to work hard to deliver programs using a variety of tools, including phone, email, virtual online appointments, and outside office drop boxes. Please consider conducting business virtually with your FSA County office. Ask our staff about using “Box and OneSpan” which is an online tool that provides a secure, cloud-based site where confidential FSA documents can be managed, shared and signed without visiting your county office. In just a few clicks, producers can efficiently conduct business without needing to interrupt the productivity of their workday.
You can learn the status of your Service Center by visiting: https://www.farmers.gov/coronavirus/service-center-status. NOTE: Please use the latest versions of Chrome, Edge, or Safari for the best experience. The Farmers.gov website is not recommended for the Internet Explorer browser. County-level information on FSA Service Center status will be updated regularly at: https://www.farmers.gov/coronavirus/service-center-status.
Upcoming FSA Producer Deadlines and Announcements:
If I may ask for your assistance, once again to help us communicate to your members and to share the information about our office status along with a few important deadlines that are quickly approaching. Producers who have business with FSA, need to contact their office ASAP to finish up applications and business prior to these deadlines.
Dec. 11 ---- Election period deadline for 2021 Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program.
Dec. 11 ---- Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) application deadline.
Dec. 15 ---- Deadline to report the 2021 Fall Seeded Crops for fall barley, fall wheat and all other fall-seeded small grains.
Producers can now make elections and enroll in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2021 crop year and signup for the 2021 crop year opened Tuesday, October 13. If producers already know into which program they would like to enroll their farm(s), then please make an appointment to complete the paperwork. If producers are interested in learning more about the ARC and PLC programs, then join me along with Ben Brown and other representatives from The Ohio State Extension Service and FSA as we co-host a Free Statewide ARC/PLC Webinar on December 1, from 10:00 am - 11:00 am EST. We will discuss ARC/PLC enrollment and election, market outlook and economic conditions, program eligibility, payment limitations and deadlines, along with answering producer questions.
Lastly, the necessity to conduct FSA business by means other than face to face continues to be very important right now. If you have changed your home phone number, cell phone number or email address be sure to provide your FSA County office with the updated contact information. This will allow our staff an opportunity to keep producers informed of program announcement and deadlines, reporting requirements and other important updates. Our staff can send short SMS messages and emails to producers, to keep you updated on programs. To subscribe, visit fsa.usda.gov/subscribe to sign-up and receive emails and text messages. Producers can also ask our staff for assistance to subscribe for these services.