U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today said the USDA intends to file special provisions with the federal crop insurance program to allow haying or grazing of cover crops without impacting the insurability of planted 2013 spring crops, a move that can help provide much needed forage and feed this fall and winter for livestock producers.
In a separate step, Vilsack will modify emergency loans, allowing loans to be made earlier in the season helping livestock producers to offset increased feed costs and those who have liquidated herds.
Earlier today, Vilsack also designated 33 additional counties in 8 states as natural disaster areas—23 counties due to drought. In the past six weeks, USDA has designated 1,821 counties in 35 states as disaster areas—1,692 due to drought—while USDA officials have fanned out to more than a dozen drought-affected states as part of a total U.S. government effort to offer support and assistance to those impacted by the drought.
The changes announced today by Secretary Vilsack will benefit America's livestock and crop producers alike by improving procedures and lessening requirements during a time of disaster.
For the 2013 crop year, USDA's Risk Management Agency—which manages and operates the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation—intends to file special provisions statements to allow haying or grazing of cover crops without impacting the insurability of planted 2013 spring crops. This flexibility will help farmers, if they choose, plant a cover crop without risking crop insurance coverage in 2013, providing much needed forage and feed this fall and winter.
In a separate announcement, USDA's Farm Service Agency will make changes to the emergency loan program that will help producers obtain the loans earlier in the season. Before the change, emergency loan eligibility was based on crop losses that were determined after the production cycle; loan amounts were based on production during normal years. With these changes, producers no longer are required to wait until the end of the production cycle to obtain a loan, benefiting livestock producers who need assistance today to help offset increased feed costs, as well as producers liquidating herds as a result of the drought.
The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that 63% of the nation's hay acreage is in an area experiencing drought, while approximately 71% of the nation's cattle acreage is in an area experiencing drought. During the week ending August 19, USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that 51% of U.S. corn and 37% of the soybeans were rated in very poor to poor condition, while rangeland and pastures rated very poor to poor remained at 59% for the third consecutive week.
On Aug. 10, USDA estimated the 2012 U.S. corn crop to be the eighth largest in history, at roughly 10.8 billion bushels. In 1988, when U.S. farmers were impacted by another serious drought, total production was 4.9 billion bushels.
Primary counties and corresponding states designated as disaster areas today for drought and other reasons:
California [drought]: Alpine
Georgia [drought]: Forsyth, Hall
Idaho [drought]: Bannock, Bear Lake, Cassia, Fremont, Oneida;
Idaho [other]: Bannock, Camas, Fremont, Nez Perce, Payette, Bonneville, Cassia, Gem, Oneida, Teton
Indiana [drought]: Randolph
Kansas [drought]: Marshall
Nebraska [drought]: Gage, Johnson, Nuckolls, Richardson, Jefferson, Nemaha, Pawnee, Thayer
Tennessee [drought]: Dickson, Henderson
Utah [drought]: Beaver, Iron, Piute