RMA adjusts haying, grazing dates, FSA extends reporting dates
Farmers who planted cover crops on prevented plant acres will be permitted to hay, graze or chop those fields on Sept. 1 and still maintain eligibility for their full 2019 prevented planting indemnity, the Agriculture Department’s Risk Management Agency said.
RMA adjusted the 2019 final haying and grazing date from Nov. 1 to Sept. 1 to help farmers who were prevented from planting because of flooding and excess rainfall this spring.
“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 Agriculture 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.”
RMA has also determined that silage, haylage and baleage should be treated in the same manner as haying and grazing for this year.
“These adjustments have been made for 2019 only,” said RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. “RMA will evaluate the prudence of a permanent adjustment moving forward.”
In a news release, RMA also noted that USDA’s Farm Service Agency is extending the deadline to report prevented plant acres in select counties, and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is holding special sign-ups for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program in certain states to help with planting cover crops on impacted lands. Farmers should contat local FSA and NRCS offices to learn more, RMA said.
Members of Congress praised USDA for the action.
“Farmers are in need of options and common-sense flexibility given this year’s disaster situation, where we have millions of acres of farm and rangeland impacted,” House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said.
“The changes announced today by USDA will go a long way toward providing farmers and livestock producers with options to address the forage situation in many parts of the country. After hearing from hundreds of farmers at a town hall meeting, I urged the secretary to make this change, and I appreciate the willingness of Secretary (Sonny) Perdue to provide this relief to farmers and ranchers.”
Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D., noted that he too had urged USDA to make the change.
“We appreciate USDA heeding our call to provide an earlier date for haying and grazing of cover crops on prevent plant acres,” said Hoeven. “This earlier date will help producers to better utilize cover crops, which are an important tool for our farmers that allows prevent plant acres to be better maintained.”
Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., in a joint statement, noted that they had urged USDA to make the change and said, “This date change will allow farmers to get more out of their land before the winter, while also addressing shortages in livestock feed caused by extreme weather.”
“Farmers across Michigan are dealing with some of the wettest weather on record — with many of our counties at or exceeding disaster-levels” said Peters. “I’m pleased the USDA is taking necessary steps to let our farmers try to salvage what they can from the planting season. I urge the USDA to take additional action to treat Michigan farmers no differently than other parts of the country that have been dealing with natural disasters.”
“I applaud the USDA for acting quickly on our request to provide relief for Michigan farmers affected by record rainfall,” said Stabenow. “It’s just common sense to help farmers get the best use out of their land after they were unable to plant their crops this year. I urge the USDA to continue along this path and ensure all impacted farmers are eligible for disaster assistance.”
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said, “I’ve always said it is important our policies incentivize farmers to do what they do best: grow food. This policy does exactly that by giving farmers more flexibility and discretion over how they manage their land and crops while ensuring they can receive prevent plant indemnities. I applaud the administration for taking these steps.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Jennifer Houston said, Today’s move by USDA will provide much-needed relief for hardworking farmers and ranchers trying to recover from this year’s planting season.” ❖
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The House passed S.4054, the Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020, by voice vote.