As the growing season marches on and farmers are expected to file prevent plant claims on a record number of acres, USDA is easing cover crop harvest rules to ensure livestock producers have adequate feed supplies. In 2019, farmers who planted cover crops on prevent plant acres will be permitted to hay, graze or chop those fields on Sept. 1 instead of Nov. 1
“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 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. This means that producers can harvest cover crops off of prevent plant acres and still receive their full indemnity this year.
Lawmakers praised the decision. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota says he urged Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to make this change and he’s thankful he did.
“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,” he said in a statement. “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 Perdue to provide this relief to farmers and ranchers.”
Similarly, U.S. Rep. Angie Craig said this change will provide farmers much needed access to forages.
“I’m glad to see the Administration announce this critical decision that will give farmers and ranchers the flexibility they need during this wet planting season,” said Rep. Craig. “Minnesota farmers and ranchers deserve security in their feed supply, and I am grateful that the USDA has taken this step to ensure they have the relief they need.”