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After the storms: What help is available for Minnesota farmers?

Learning about zero-interest loans, options for crops on prevent-plant acres and knowing crop insurance requirements are at the top of the list.

Paula Mohr

June 8, 2022

5 Min Read
flooded, unplanted crop field on farm
HELP AVAILABLE: Bad storms across Minnesota in May delayed or prevented planting for many farmers. Contact your local service agencies for information on programs to help. JJ Gouin/Getty Images

Delayed and prevented planting in Minnesota has prompted federal and state agencies and others to issue various news releases with information for farmers.

Worth noting are:

When to report. According to the Minnesota Farm Service Agency, for FSA reporting purposes, prevented planting acres cannot be reported until after the final plant date for the applicable crop. For most of Minnesota, the final planting date for corn is May 31. For northern counties in the state, it is May 25. The final planting date for soybeans in Minnesota is June 10. The late planting period extends for 25 days after the crop's final planting date. July 15 is the deadline for the annual certification of spring-seeded crop acreage. It is also the deadline for certification of hemp and Conservation Reserve Program acreage. FSA will have a better understanding of prevented planting in Minnesota after that July 15 deadline.

FSA says the following exceptions apply to acreage reporting dates:

  1. If the crop has not been planted by the acreage reporting date, then the acreage must be reported no later than 15 calendar days after planting is completed.

  2. If a producer acquires additional acreage after the acreage reporting date, then the acreage must be reported no later than 30 calendar days after purchase or acquiring the lease. Appropriate documentation must be provided to the county office.

Producers should also report crop acreage they intended to plant, but due to natural disaster, were unable to plant. Prevented planting acreage must be reported on form CCC-576, Notice of Loss, no later than 15 calendar days after the final planting date as established by FSA and USDA’s Risk Management Agency.

Know your insurance options. Contact your crop insurance agent to learn your options, says USDA’s Risk Management Agency. Producers unable to plant by the final planting date due to an insurable cause of loss may receive a prevented planting payment or receive a reduced-insurance guarantee if they choose to plant within the late planting period. Additionally, producers may choose to plant a different crop with a later final planting date while still receiving a partial prevented planting payment.

Producers with crop insurance may now hay, graze or chop cover crops at any time and still receive 100% of the prevented planting payment, provided the act of haying, grazing or chopping the cover crop did not contribute to the acreage being prevented from planting. RMA updated this policy in 2021 to support the use of cover crops, an important conservation practice if producers are unable to plant a cash crop. Cover crops can reduce soil erosion and help reestablish soil health and create pathways for air and water to move through the soil. (cover crop benefits) Learn more about insurance options.

Producers considering nonconventional planting practices, such as broadcasting and then incorporating the seed, should contact their agent to see if an Unrated Practice or Type (TP) written agreement is required to insure the practice.

The deadline to request a TP written agreement for crops with a March 15 sales closing date is July 15.

What to grow. When deciding what to grow on prevented planting acres, understanding the end use is key, says Justin Fruechte, forage and cover crop specialist at Millborn Seeds in Brookings, S.D.

“No more date restrictions on when producers can hay, graze or chop a cover crop opens up many new options for livestock producers hoping to build up feed reserves for livestock,” Fruechte says. “And the fact that we can get in and plant acres, as soon as the weather cooperates, allows additional options for producers eager to reap the soil health benefits of cover crops.”

Based on end use, Fruechte outlines some warm-season hay, silage, grazing and cover crop options that are quick to mature — even when planted in midsummer.

  • Hay. Millet and teff grass are warm-season annuals that are quick to mature and can be planted as late as mid-July. Both are palatable forages with high-value nutritional analysis. The annuals are also quick to dry down. Producers could expect to get up to three cuttings of teff hay before the first frost.

  • Silage. Early-maturing forage sorghum or sorghum-sudangrass are good options to consider for silage. Both are high-yielding and provide a higher-protein silage compared to corn.

  • Grazing. For a grazing mix that will provide a nutritionally complete TMR (total mixed ration) as well as soil health benefits, a diverse blend of warm-season grasses, legumes and brassicas is recommended. In addition to their feed benefits, brassica species like radish and turnips increase water infiltration and alleviate soil compaction.

  • Cover crops. If forage production is not the end goal, planting acres to a cover crop mixture provides a multitude of soil health benefits that will yield in 2022 and beyond. Depending on the mix, cover crops: prevent erosion, suppress weeds, build nitrogen, increase water infiltration and alleviate soil compaction.

Zero-interest loans to rebuild. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Rural Finance Authority (RFA) declared an emergency for counties impacted by severe weather, thus making farm operations in those regions of the state eligible for zero-interest loans to repair or rebuild facilities and replace livestock.

The resolution declared an emergency for the following counties: Aitkin, Becker, Beltrami, Benton, Big Stone, Brown, Carlton, Chippewa, Chisago, Clay, Clearwater, Cook, Cottonwood, Douglas, Faribault, Grant, Isanti, Jackson, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Koochiching, Lac Qui Parle, Lake, Lake of the Woods, Lincoln, Lyon, Mahnomen, Marshall, Meeker, Morrison, Murray, Nobles, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Pine, Pipestone, Polk, Pope, Red Lake, Renville, Rock, Roseau, Saint Louis, Sherburne, Stearns, Steele, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wadena, Wilkin, Yellow Medicine and adjacent counties.

The Disaster Recovery Loan Program can be used to help cover lost revenue or expenses not covered by insurance. The funds can be used to help clean up, repair, or replace farm structures and replace livestock.

The declaration applies to physical property damage and/or death of livestock taking place due to heavy rains and high winds in May.

Eligible farmers must have received at least 50% of their annual gross income from farming for the past three years and will work through their bank to secure the loans from the RFA. Interest rates on the RFA portion of the loan are currently set at 0.

Visit the MDA website to get more information about the Disaster Recovery Loan.

 

About the Author(s)

Paula Mohr

Editor, The Farmer

Paula Mohr has been editor of The Farmer since 2004. She enjoys covering a wide range of topics that are of interest to Minnesota producers.

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