Currently, under the Federal Crop Insurance Program, producers unable to plant a crop due to adverse weather conditions are eligible to receive a small indemnity but prohibited from growing a cash commodity due to a missed window in the growing season. A new bipartisan, bicameral bill - the Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters with Cover Crops Act (FEEDD Act) -- would create a clear emergency waiver authority for USDA to allow producers to graze, hay or chop a cover crop before November 1st in the event of a feed shortage due to excessive moisture, flood, or drought. With this waiver, producers would not have to take a further discount on their crop insurance.
The bill was reintroduced by U.S. Reps. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., and Angie Craig, D-Minn.; and Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Tammy Baldwin , D-Wisc. The FEEDD Act will provide farmers and ranchers emergency flexibility to help alleviate livestock feed shortages during planting seasons with high levels of prevent plant due to extreme moisture or drought. USDA provided an administrative fix to the haying and grazing dates in 2019 and 2020 after urging from Congress.
The bill also directs the Secretary to establish regional “harvest dates” for each crop year for predictable rules on prevent plant cover crop harvest annually. The current date, November 1, is set on a nationwide basis and disadvantages producers in the upper Midwest. This would provide flexibility for the Secretary to move up the haying and grazing date for states in the northern part of the country.
“A one-sized-fits-all approach doesn’t always work, and the cover crop harvest date is a good example where this approach falls short,” says Johnson. “I’m grateful USDA provided an administrative fix to the prevent plant harvest date deadline in 2019 after unprecedented flooding in states like South Dakota, but this date flexibility needs to be permanent and regionally tailored. The government can’t control the weather, but we can enhance predictability for producers when disasters hit.”
“Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, Congress has a responsibility to provide farmers and ranchers the flexibility they need to do their jobs successfully,” adds Craig. “The FEEDD Act will help to support ag producers in Minnesota at no cost to the taxpayer – while incentivizing the planting of cover crops to protect the health and quality of farmers’ soil in Minnesota.”
“Cover crops are an important tool that enable farmers to better maintain their land and provide an important source of feed for livestock,” says Hoeven. “It makes sense to provide adequate flexibility in USDA’s rules for cover crops to address disasters, differences in regional climates and local feed shortages. That’s exactly what our bill will provide, while preserving crop insurance program integrity and preventing penalties for farmers.”
“In Wisconsin, when farmers lose a crop to flooding, drought or other extreme weathers events, they are left with tough choices about how to make up for crop losses and protect their soil from erosion,” says Baldwin. “This bipartisan legislation will give farmers more certainty about their feed options in disaster years. By reducing uncertainty for farmers, we’re working to ease one of the headaches they face when deciding about putting in cover crops, which will benefit soil health on the farm and water quality in our communities.”
The FEEDD Act is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Association of Conservation Districts, American Soybean Association, U.S. Durum Growers Association, American Sheep Industry Association, Edge Dairy Cooperative, Midwest Dairy Coalition, Farm Credit Council, American Bankers Association, Independent Community Bankers of America, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Crop Insurance Reimbursement Bureau, Ag Retailers Association, The Nature Conservancy, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative.
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