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USDA Micro Farm Application Self-Assessment Tool

USDA Micro Farm Application Self-Assessment Tool

Welcome to The Carrot Project’s USDA Micro Farm Application Self-Assessment Tool! This tool is designed to help you gather the required financial records and other paperwork needed to apply for USDA’s newest insurance program.

What is Micro Farm insurance? This is a new insurance program available from the USDA, made specifically for small-scale, diversified growers making up to $350,000 annually. Micro Farm insurance is a way to protect your farm against the unexpected by protecting farm revenue (including revenue from post-production processing and value-added products) from losses in income. For example, if you’re insured for $100,000, and you only make $30,000 during the year, you could receive a claim payment of $70,000 to recover the difference.

This self-assessment tool should take less than 10 minutes to get through (it’s just 10 questions long) and provides general guidance. This is Part Two of The Carrot Project’s series of Micro Farm insurance tools. If you haven’t done so already, please use Part One to first determine if you are eligible for Micro Farm insurance before using this self-assessment tool. For Part One, please follow this link

Please use the Next and Back buttons on the bottom of the screen, and not the Back button on your browser. You do not need to share any personally identifying information to use this tool. Any information that you do wish to share will be kept confidential.

If you have any questions or need assistance using this tool, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Amanda Chang, Outreach Coordinator at The Carrot Project, at achang@thecarrotproject.org or at 617-674-2371 x 10.

Now, let’s get started!

This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2021-70027-34693.
 
1. I have the following records available for my farm taxes:
In order to apply for Micro Farm insurance, you must have either federal tax forms dating back at least three years, or if you are tax exempt, have financial paperwork that would allow you to fill out a Substitute Schedule F. 
2. How many years do you have these records dating back? 
Unfortunately, if you have less than 3 years of filing taxes, you are not currently eligible for Micro Farm insurance. You are welcome to join us and learn more so you can be prepared when the time comes though!
If you have 3 or more years of filing taxes, if possible, we encourage you to bring additional years of tax forms when you meet with a crop insurance provider. While Micro Farm requires only 3 years of tax records, it may be to your advantage to present more than 3 years. Micro Farm insurance coverage is based on the average of 5 years of records. This means if you only have 3 years, your lowest year will be substituted for the missing 4th and 5th years. If you only have 4 years of tax records, your lowest year will be substituted for the missing 5th year.

Don’t worry if you have one or two bad years in the mix, or if you only have 3 years’ worth of records!  There are certain options that crop insurance providers can offer to help you increase your coverage level. 
 
3. Which fiscal year do you file your taxes by?  
The dates in this self-guided tool are for Micro Farm insurance plans based around calendar year filers (the tax year goes from January to December, and you file taxes by March 15 of each year).

Insurance sign-up dates are different if you file by the fiscal year. You will need to reach out to a crop insurance agent to get an up-to-date list of sign-up dates if you are an early or late filer. You can contact a crop insurance agent through this link

Otherwise, you can still use this tool to help you determine what paperwork and application requirements you need!
 
4. Have you filed taxes for the 2022 year yet?
Glad to hear you’ve finished filing your taxes! You will need to bring a copy of your 2022 farm tax forms with you when you meet with a crop insurance agent. Micro Farm insurance coverage for 2023 requires that you have at least 2020, 2021, and 2022 schedule Fs available (though if you have years going further back, you should bring those too!).
If you have not yet filed your taxes, in order to apply for Micro Farm insurance, you must have already filed your taxes and be able to present your 2022 schedule F by the insurance sales closing date of March 15, 2023, or fill out a Substitute Schedule F to be used in the Micro Farm insurance application. Micro Farm insurance coverage for 2023 requires that you have at least 2020, 2021, and 2022 schedule Fs available (though if you have years going further back, you should bring those too).
5. Have you planned out what you will be producing in 2023?  
Glad to hear you’ve finished planning out your next year’s production! Your insurance coverage level is determined by a comparison between your estimated farm revenue for the coverage year and your historic revenue average over the past five years. Your insurance coverage level is the lower between those two numbers. Your estimated farm revenue for the coverage year is based on what you plan to produce for the upcoming year, and you will need to fill out a “Farm Operation Report” as part of the application process.  

Don’t worry if plans change! You will have a chance to revise things in July after you have already enrolled in this program in March. 
 
If you have not yet planned out your production for 2023, you will need to do so before March 15 which is when sales of this insurance plan close. Your insurance coverage level is determined by a comparison between your estimated farm revenue for the coverage year and your historic revenue average over the past five years. Your insurance coverage level is the lower between those two numbers. Your estimated farm revenue for the coverage year is based on what you plan to produce for the upcoming year, and you will need to fill out a “Farm Operation Report” as part of the application process.  

Don’t worry if plans change! You will have a chance to revise things in July after you have already enrolled in this program in March.  
 
6. How many different farm products do you produce (different crops, livestock, animal products, etc.)? 
 
If you only produce one farm product, you may be better served by a traditional crop insurance plan rather than Micro Farm insurance. We suggest exploring other options to compare against Micro Farm and see what is best for you. To locate a crop insurance provider, please follow this link.
7. Have you registered with the USDA Farm Service Agency before (you have a farm and tract number)?
 
Great! You’re all set with this step then – as Micro Farm insurance is a federal, USDA program, you must be registered with USDA in order to apply.
 
As Micro Farm insurance is a federal, USDA program, you must be registered with USDA in order to apply. Before applying for Micro Farm insurance, you will need to find your local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office and register for a farm and tract number. Registering for a farm and tract number is a fairly straightforward and quick process.

To locate your county FSA office, click here. The Carrot Project is available to assist you with locating your county FSA office and registering for a farm and tract number. 
 
8. Do you have a completed and signed AD-1026 form (USDA’s “Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification”)? This form can be completed after registering for a farm and tract number with USDA FSA, and is completed by your local USDA FSA office.  
Great! Bring a copy of your up-to-date, completed and signed AD-1026 with you when applying for Micro Farm insurance. An AD-1026 is necessary to receive premium subsidies from the USDA. Like with health insurance or car insurance, you will need to pay a premium to buy into Micro Farm insurance. A premium subsidy from the USDA means that the USDA will pay for part of your insurance premium, lowering the amount you pay out of pocket.
 
A completed AD-1026 is NOT a requirement to receive federal crop insurance, but not having an AD-1026 means you will need to pay much more out of pocket for the insurance premium (like with health insurance or car insurance, you will need to pay a premium to buy into Micro Farm insurance). An AD-1026 certificate demonstrates that you are compliant with conservation measures in your area. This is necessary in order to be eligible for premium subsidies (meaning that the USDA pays for part of your insurance premium). The AD-1026 is necessary not only for federal crop insurance subsidies, but it is also necessary for certain USDA loans and disaster assistance programs. 

To complete an AD-1026 certification form, you will need to contact your local USDA FSA office. To locate your county FSA office, click here. The Carrot Project is available to assist you with working with your local FSA office. 

If you do not have a completed and signed AD-1026 by the time you apply for insurance, there is still time to do so. While the application deadline is March 15, you do not need a completed and signed AD-1026 until August 15 (after you have already enrolled in this insurance program). 
 
9. Now, two final questions to determine eligibility for additional benefits! Are you a U.S. veteran?
 
Veterans may be eligible for additional benefits such as premium reductions! Be sure to share this information with your crop insurance agent and ask about any benefits that may be available to veterans.
 
10. How many years have you been the operator of the farm? A farm operator is a person who runs the farm, making day-to-day management decisions. This is different from your total years of farming experience.
 
If you have less than ten years of being a farm operator, you can qualify as a Beginning Farmer or Rancher and you may be eligible for additional benefits such as premium reductions! Be sure to share this information with your crop insurance agent and ask about any benefits that may be available to Beginning Farmers and Ranchers.