Producers can now hay, graze and chop cover crops anytime and still receive full prevented planting payment

WASHINGTON, D.C.(Press Release) – Agricultural producers with crop insurance can hay, graze or chop cover crops for silage, haylage or baleage at any time and still receive 100% of the prevented planting payment. Previously, cover crops could only be hayed, grazed or chopped after November 1, otherwise the prevented planting payment was reduced by 65%.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) added this flexibility as part of a broader effort to encourage producers to use cover crops, an important conservation and good farming practice. Cover crops are especially important on fields prevented from planting as they help reduce soil erosion and boost soil health.

“We work diligently to ensure the Federal crop insurance program helps producers effectively manage risk on their farms while also conserving natural resources,” said Acting RMA Administrator Richard Flournoy. “We are dedicated to responding to the needs of producers, and this flexibility is good for agriculture and promotes climate smart agricultural practices. We are glad we can better support producers who use cover crops.”

RMA recognizes that cover crops are not planted as an agricultural commodity but rather with the primary purpose for conservation benefits.  For the 2021 crop year and beyond, RMA will not consider a cover crop planted following a prevented planting claim to be a second crop. But RMA will continue to consider a cover crop harvested for grain or seed to be a second crop, and it remains subject to a reduction in the prevented planting indemnity in accordance with the policy.

This decision to allow flexibility for the 2021 crop year and to make the change permanent for future years builds on the advanced research and identified benefits cover crops have supporting healthy soils and cropland sustainability efforts.  Additionally, this decision aligns with the 2018 Farm Bill’s designation of cover crops as a good farming practice.

Senator John Thune released the following statement.

“With difficult growing conditions in recent years, I have been fighting to give producers in our state flexibility when it comes to harvesting cover crops on prevented plant acres. I am glad USDA listened to our calls to lift the prohibition on haying, grazing, and chopping prior to the November 1 date. This will help level the playing field for producers in northern states like South Dakota.”

Congressman Dusty Johnson released the following statement.

“This has been a team effort since 2019, and I’m grateful USDA made our fix permanent,”said Johnson. “We can’t predict the weather, but we can provide more certainty to producers, and that’s what the FEEDD Act aims to do. This simple change will ease feed shortages in dry or wet months and improve soil health overall. As South Dakota continues to face a drought, this is the sort of flexibility farmers and ranchers need to get by.”