U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials say the department is trying to streamline the process for farmers to get their crop acreage reports with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and participating insurance providers approved by the Risk Management Agency (RMA). Now a farmer can provide the common information from their acreage reports at one office and the information will be electronically shared with the other location.

The data that's important to both FSA and RMA will be “securely and electronically shared” with the other location. FSA Administrator Val Dolcini said, "This will avoid redundant and duplicative reporting, and we expect this to save farmers and ranchers time."

"Accuracy in crop reporting is a key component for crop insurance, because an error in this information can affect premiums or claims. This is going to greatly improve efficiencies and reduce mistakes," said RMA Administrator Brandon Willis.

This new process is part of the USDA Acreage Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative (ACRSI) that was initiated in 2009.

This interagency collaboration also includes participating private crop insurance agents and insurance companies, all working to streamline the information collected from farmers and ranchers who participate in USDA programs.

In 2013, USDA consolidated the deadlines to 15 dates for submitting these reports, down from the previous 54 dates at RMA and 17 dates for FSA. USDA representatives believe farmers and ranchers will experience a notable improvement in the coming weeks as they approach the peak season for crop reporting later this summer.

More than 93 percent of all annual reported acres to FSA and RMA now are eligible for the common data reporting, and USDA is exploring adding more crops. Producers must still visit both locations to validate and sign acreage reports, complete maps or provide program-specific information.

Dolcini is also reminding farmers and ranchers that they can now access their FSA farm information from their home computer. "You can see your field boundaries, images of your farm, conservation status, operator and owner information and much more," said Dolcini.

The new customer self-service portal, known as FSAFarm+, gives farmers and ranchers online access to securely view, print or export their personal farm data. To enroll in the online service, producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for details. Local FSA offices can be found here: http://offices.usda.gov.