Mid-South farmers are organizing to persuade the U.S. government to overturn a new permanent rule in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations which eliminates base acres on federally-owned cropland.

An organizing meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Marshall County Fairgrounds on Hwy. 7 North, just north of Holly Spring, Miss.

The rule was made possible by a provision in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (Section 1101, Base Acres) which states, “The owner of a farm may reduce, at any time, the base acres for any covered commodity for the farm.”

The section also stated that the reduction, “shall be permanent and made in a manner prescribed by the secretary.”

Noted Ted Serafini, congressional staffer for Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., “The government took that rule and applied it to themselves.”

A letter (Notice DCP 204) sent to FSA state and county offices from John Johnson, deputy administrator of farm programs for USDA’s Farm Service Agency, stated that Part 1412 of the Code of Federal Regulations “provides that land owned by federal agencies will have base acres terminated for the 2009 crop year unless that land is subject to a lease agreement which was executed before Dec. 23, 2008, and is in effect beyond the 2009 crop year.”

The National Cotton Council announced in January that the “NCC and other groups are working with Congress and the new administration in an effort to overturn this rule,” which effectively eliminates direct and counter-cyclical payments on the federally-owned lands.”

If you are interested in organizing a response to the new rule, or for more information on the Marshall County meeting, call Joyce Whaley at (662) 333-7360.

e-mail: erobinson@farmpress.com