A Lawrence agriculture official is urging local farmers to visit his office before Saturday.
Friday marks the deadline for enrollment in farm programs brought about by the 1996 Farm Bill, said Johnathon Alley, Douglas County executive director of the federal Farm Service Agency.
"We still have a number of farms that still haven't enrolled in the program," Alley said Wednesday. "We know there are a lot of farms out there that are eligible, and producers have not yet come into our office and enrolled those farms. We'd like a higher turnout than we've seen."
The agency began enrolling farmers earlier this year, shortly after President Clinton signed the Farm Bill in early April. The new bill replaced an annual signup requirement for programs with a one-time enrollment period that will cover the duration of the seven-year bill.
That means that with a few exceptions -- farmers who signed long-term contracts under old farm policies -- farmers will not be eligible for payments for seven years unless they sign up by Friday.
Alley declined to say how many farmers had enrolled and how many had not yet signed up. He said a "significant percentage" had shied away from the program.
"I think a lot of them are not aware that they might be eligible," he said. "We've provided a lot of information, but there's still some people who might not want to go in for the seven-year program.
"That's some of the things we're dealing with now, and some have small-acreage bases and don't want to hassle with it."
Alley said that even for owners of small plots, enrollment would be beneficial. Some landowners are eligible for benefits even though no crops are being grown on their property, he said.
Alley said enrollment takes about 15 to 20 minutes. He said walk-ins were welcome at his office at 3010 Four Wheel Dr. and that officials would be available for appointments.