The sign-up deadline for the 2019 program year is March 16. You can choose to sign a multi-year contract for this farm bill. The deadline for 2020 crop year sign up is June 30, and Price Loss Coverage yield updates have a deadline of Sept. 30. If you decide down the road to make a change to your election, you can do so for 2021 through 2023 crop years.  
    The deadlines for Marketing Assistance Loans and Loan Deficiency Payments are fast approaching.
    MALs and LDPs provide financing and marketing assistance for wheat, feed grains, soybean and other oilseeds. MALs provide producers interim financing after harvest to help them meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are typically at harvest-time lows.
    The Farm Service Agency is now accepting applications for 2019 MALs for all eligible commodities after harvest. Requests for loans shall be made on or before the final availability date for the respective commodities. For small grains, such as wheat, barley and oat, the deadline is March 31. For crops such as soybean and corn, the final availability date is May 31.
     For more information and additional eligibility requirements, visit a nearby United States Department of Agriculture Service Center or
    On Feb. 24, FSA announced a new pilot program that enables farmers in the Prairie Pothole region to receive payments for planting cover crops on their land for three to five years. The new Conservation Reserve Program Soil Health and Income Protection Program pilot is available to producers in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. The signup for this pilot starts March 30 and ends Aug. 21.
    Through SHIPP, producers have the option of three-, four- or five-year CRP contracts to establish cover crops on less productive cropland in exchange for payments. This pilot enables producers to plant cover crops that, among other benefits, will improve soil health and water quality while having the option to harvest, hay and graze during certain times of the year. Up to 50,000 acres can be enrolled.
    The SHIPP pilot is the latest option in a full suite of opportunities available to producers through CRP and other conservation programs offered by USDA. Farmers and ranchers are encouraged to talk to their FSA county office soon about whether this pilot fits their operation or consider another longer-term option.
    For more information, visit or contact your local office. To find a USDA Service Center office, visit
    Farm Service Agency is an Equal Opportunity Lender. Complaints about discrimination should be sent to: Secretary of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250. Visit the Farm Service Agency Web site at: for necessary application forms and updates on USDA programs.