Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Electronic check processing arrives at FSA

By Pamela Stahlke
Pamela.Stahlke@mn.usda.gov

Date Modified: 10/10/2012 3:47 PM

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Summer has hit with a vengeance and we hope all of our producers are staying cool and safe out there.

Here at the FSA office we are busy certifying your acres, accepting late DCP/ACRE sign-ups, completing CRP field visits and working behind the scenes to update our processing to better serve our producers.

As part of this National modernization effort FSA is updating our payment processing system. This new system will work similar to your experience paying with a check at your local big box store.

Payments will be electronically debited from your banking account. Read on to find out more information and frequently asked questions as provided by the National Office staff.

FSA/CCC is moving toward OTCnet, an electronic method for processing customer check payments. When a check is submitted for payment either in person or through the mail, the check will be converted into an Electronic Funds Transfer.

The funds will be debited from the producer's account, usually within 24 hours of receipt. Please see the U.S. Department of Treasury legal notices posted in the Service Center or visit the following U.S. Department of Treasury Internet site for detailed information at http://fms.treas.gov/otcnet/legal.html

What is OTCnet?

OTCnet is a Web-based online application process for converting paper checks presented to FSA into electronic debits to the producer's bank account. It presents many benefits, such as reducing lost/misplaced checks and paper handling. This improves customer relations, speeds the check clearing process, and reduces the potential for human error.

How will my check be handled?

The check will be scanned into the system and voided. The customer will not receive the check back from FSA. FSA will hold checks for up to 14 calendar days to ensure that the item was successfully processed, and then FSA will shred the check.

How quickly will funds be transferred from my account?

The transfer of funds from your account could occur within 24 hours. Therefore, you should be sure that you have sufficient funds in your account to process the transaction. If you do not have sufficient funds, we may initiate the transaction again.

How will this transaction appear on my account statement?

The transfer of funds will be reflected on your account statement. The transaction may be recorded in a different place on your statement than where your checks normally appear, such as under "other withdrawals" or "other transactions."

What are my rights if there is a problem with the transaction?

You have protections under Federal law for an unauthorized electronic fund transfer from your account. You should contact your financial institution immediately if you believe that the transaction

This check-processing system will be coming to a local FSA office near you in late summer/early fall 2012. Contact your local FSA office or logon www.fsa.usda.gov for any questions about this new way of processing your payments!

— Pamela Stahlke is executive director of the Winona County FSA office