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USDA Risk Management Agency grants ‘prevented plant’ cover crop harvest flexibility

Progressive Dairyman Editor Dave Natzke Published on 20 June 2019

The USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) is providing dairy producers and others with additional flexibility in harvesting cover crops to help meet their 2019 forage needs. Under the special provisions announced June 20, producers can hay, graze or cut cover crops for silage, haylage or baleage on “prevented plant” acres on or after Sept. 1 and still remain eligible for 100% of their prevented planting federal crop insurance payments.

Under current crop insurance rules, a cover crop planted after the Late Planting Period (LPP) for the prevented planted crop may not be hayed or grazed until after Nov. 1 to maintain eligibility to receive a full prevented planting payment. If the cover crop is hayed or grazed before Nov. 1, or otherwise harvested at any time, the prevented planting payment would be reduced by 65%.

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However, historical flooding and excessive rainfall throughout much of the country will likely lead to an unprecedented amount of prevented planting claims under federal crop insurance. Given these extraordinary events and the need for animal feed in many parts of the country, flexibility around the use of a cover crop planted on prevented planted acreage for haying, grazing and cutting for silage, haylage and baleage has become necessary.

“We recognize farmers were greatly impacted by some of the unprecedented flooding and excessive rain this spring, and we made this one-year adjustment to help farmers with the tough decisions they are facing this year,” said USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey. “This change will make good stewardship of the land easier to accomplish while also providing an opportunity to ensure quality forage is available for livestock this fall.”

A cover crop is defined in the policy as a crop generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement.

“These adjustments have been made for 2019 only,” said RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. “RMA will evaluate the prudence of a permanent adjustment moving forward.”

Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents.

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Other USDA agencies are also assisting producers with delayed or prevented planting. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is extending the deadline to report prevented plant acres in select counties, and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is holding special sign-ups for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program in certain states to help with planting cover crops on impacted lands. Contact your local FSA and NRCS offices to learn more.

Read USDA’s frequently asked questions to learn more about prevented plant.

The RMA’s announcement is similar to a proposal introduced in the House earlier this month. The Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters Act (FEEDD Act) would create an emergency waiver authority for the secretary of agriculture to allow for haying, grazing or chopping of a cover crop before Nov. 1 in the event of a feed shortage due to excessive moisture, flood or drought without producers taking a further discount on their crop insurance. Additionally, this legislation will provide emergency forage for personal use or donation for family farmers and ranchers when devastating weather hits, and enhance the overall farm safety net for diversified crop and livestock producers. Read: FEEDD Act seeks feed emergency flexibility.

Also, a multistate coalition of agricultural organizations submitted a written request to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, June 6, seeking approval for emergency provisions allowing the planting and harvesting of forages on prevented plant acres without date restrictions. Read: Efforts underway to head off a looming ‘forage disaster.’  end mark

Dave Natzke
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