April 7, 2010 03:54 AM

IRS Income Verifications Now Set

After being a topic of discussion for months—since the 2008 farm bill was put in place—the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have finally worked out the details on income limits. In general, to be eligible for direct payments, the adjusted gross income (AGI) limits are $500,000 for nonfarm and $750,000 for farm. If you want to qualify for payments from conservation programs, the AGI limit is $1 million for nonfarm.

In order to receive payments, you have to fill out a Consent to Disclosure of Tax Return Information form. The forms are available at your local FSA office and online, but you return them to the IRS at the address on the form, not to the FSA office. Once you sign the form, you have 60 days to get it to the IRS. The final deadline is June 15, 2010. If you don't file the form, you'll be ineligible for program benefits and may have to repay funds already received.

The IRS will examine certain line items on tax returns for the applicable three-year period (for 2010, for example, this would be the 2006, 2007 and 2008 tax years) and then perform a series of calculations to arrive at the three-year average amounts. Next, they'll compare those results to the AGI limits set by law for the applicable program.

Confidential data.
The IRS will report its results to FSA "on a regular basis,” according to FSA. "No actual tax data will be included. USDA county office personnel will not view tax return information at any time during this process.” FSA will be the only entity receiving the information from the IRS. The information is not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, which means the Environmental Working Group won't be publishing your tax-related income data to the world.  —Roger Bernard


Win a Free Tractor

Five-year-old Peyton DeLine of Charleston, Mo., had been waiting for weeks for the brand new Challenger MT865C track tractor to arrive at his farm. His father, Donny DeLine, won 200 hours' use of the new tractor after being named the 2010 Top Producer of the Year at the Top Producer Seminar in late January.

The tractor was delivered in mid-March by Jarrod Woley of Whayne Supply Company, the local Challenger dealer in Paducah, Ky. The 525 gross engine horsepower tractor features a Caterpillar C18 ACERT Tier III engine and 16F/4R powershift Cat transmission. Challenger's Mobil-trac system maximizes traction and flotation. Infinitely variable gauge settings plus five belt options adapt the tractor to a range of row widths and crop applications. One easy-to-use monitor tracks ISOBUS-compatible implements and all major tractor functions.

The Top Producer of the Year Award recognizes producers who demonstrate excellence in the business of farming, including marketing, farm finance, family and employee relations, technology and environmental stewardship. Entrants are judged on entrepreneurial originality, financial and business progress, and industry or community leadership. Any farmer or rancher who derives at least half of his or her income from farming and farm-related ventures may apply.

To apply for the Top Producer of the Year Award and to watch a video of the tractor delivery, visit—Jeanne Bernick


Farmland: What's Selling, Who's Buying

Farmland listings were steady through the winter, but picked up in late February, reports Josh Waddell, vice president of Martin, Goodrich & Waddell in Sycamore, Ill. "Competitively priced, productive farmland is selling in a two- to five-month time span,” he says.

Investors are still the primary buyers in northern Illinois, Waddell says, but "farmers are adding to their land holdings. In the central and southern parts of the state, farmers make up a larger proportion of buyers.

"As we watch further turmoil unfold in Washington and the world, more and more people are looking to farmland as a wealth preserver,” he adds. "Farmland carries the advantage of being an excellent inflation hedge, and it has never demonstrated the fickle swings of the stock market.”

 Waddell reports that Class A farmland is selling from $7,500 to $9,000 per acre from north-central Illinois to the western edge of "Chicagoland,” and Class B farmland is in the $5,800 to $6,800 range. As you move farther south and west, there is still considerable support for Class A land from $6,900 to $7,700 per acre, while class B land is selling from $5,300 to $6,200 per acre.

"It is safe to say that the land market in central Illinois remains as strong as it has ever been,” Waddell says. —Linda H. Smith


Firing Up Ag Activism

Agricultural economist Jay Lehr urged Commodity Classic attendees to become strong advocates for agriculture in the face of ongoing attacks from the Humane Society of the United States, the Environmental Defense Fund and others.

"You only talk about farming to each other, and that's our problem,” Lehr said. He challenged producers to spend one hour a week in activities that promote agriculture. Ideas include holding an open house, speaking at a school or civic club or anything else that offsets the misconceptions people have about farming. He said the public only hears about factory farms and corporate ownership of agriculture.

Darrin Ihnen, National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) president, said he's seen a resurgence of activism on the part of American agriculture, as evidenced by the tens of thousands of farmers who commented to the government on E15. To continue the momentum, NCGA is launching a new image and activism campaign to reinforce the importance of agriculture.

"We will create a more united and vocal army of farmers and friends who can speak out against the myths and misinformation that we see so often,” Ihnen said.

Look for more information from commodity groups on ramped-up efforts to get the word out about agriculture.  —Jeanne Bernick


Manage Family Feuds

The "CHILL” method helps families work their way through conflicts, said Hubert Brown, a family business consultant with Kennedy & Coe, to attendees at the Top Producer Seminar in late January:

Care-front (not confront) the person with whom you have a conflict.
Highlight the situation, focusing on your feelings and avoiding personal attacks.
Identify the underlying interest by actively listening to the other person's views.
Look for common ground.
Leverage an effective solution.

—Linda H. Smith


Top Liners

"Anything you can pay with pretax dollars is a way to boost compensation.” Dick Wittman, farmer and financial consultant

"Farmers can count on property tax increases over the next several years.” Purdue University agricultural economist Larry DeBoer

"Some projections suggest the eastern Corn Belt will have Arkansas weather in 50 years.” Dan Kallen, Pioneer Seed


Top Producer, Spring 2010

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