FSA programs explained: Reconstitution
June 3, 2011
I am certain that everyone has seen, heard or read an announcement about the deadline to request a farm reconstitution is Aug. 1. What you probably won’t hear, see or read is the answer to your question that usually followed, “What is a farm reconstitution?” That is a very good question, and a very fitting topic for this week’s column.
The Farm Service Agency organizes your farm by common owner and common operator. These farms are numbered beginning with number one. If you lease land from another individual, you will usually have multiple farm numbers. These farms are further organized into tracts. These tracts are blocks of land within the farm that has the same owner, is contiguous, and physically located in the same county. Farm numbers are never duplicated in the same county. Farms are further delineated into fields and are numbered starting with number one on each tract.
Each farm record in the Farm Service Agency is numbered and delineated by farm, tract and field. This is how the FSA organizes the farms in the county. A reconstitution is the division or combination of the farm or tract. This can be accomplished at any time during the year except between Aug. 1 and Oct. 1 of the year to allow for updates to be completed before next year’s records are created. This is why the deadline to request a reconstitution is normally on Aug. 1.
The majority of reconstitutions performed are associated with a landowner change, but may also be requested if there is a change to the operator of the farm. When a parcel of land transfers from one owner to another, a reconstitution should be requested. From what I have experienced, this is usually not the case. Farm Service Agency County Offices are usually notified by another source that a change has occurred. This also tends to happen right before benefits are requested. When this happens, payments can be delayed until the reconstitution is completed. Therefore, if you do sell some land, notify your local FSA office of the change.
When a reconstitution is requested, the tract or farm will be divided to create a new farm or tract and may be combined with another existing farm, depending upon the circumstance. For example, a quarter section of a 640-acre farm is sold to a new producer; the tract and farm will be divided. A new tract and farm will be created for the 160 acres that was sold to the new producer. Both the old and new farm will be renumbered and the old farm number will be maintained for historical purposes. The farms will be numbered according to the next available number.
In summary, a reconstitution is the administrative correction of the owner and or operator on a farm for the organization of the Farm Service Agency farm records. Therefore, if you ever see a notice from the Farm Service Agency, reminding you that the deadline to request a reconstitution is Aug. 1, you will know that if you have added or dropped some land, you should contact your local FSA.
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james neill is the county executive director for the farm service agency in meade county, sd and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. questions about farm reconstitutions or any other farm service agency program should be directed to your local farm service agency service center.