Ag Policy Blog

RMA Changes Prevented Planting Coverage

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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USDA's Risk Management Agency has made some changes to prevented-planting insurance this week. Among the changes, farmers in some parts of North Dakota and South Dakota can hay or graze cover crops starting Sept. 1. (DTN file photo)

Starting next spring, farmers nationally will have to show a piece of ground was planted and insured at least once in the past four years to be eligible for prevented-planted coverage on those acres, according to a new USDA requirement for crop insurance.

USDA's Risk Management Agency on Wednesday announces changes to prevented planting coverage starting with the 2021 spring crops. Among those changes is expanding the "one in four" requirement for prevented planting. Right now, farmers in the Dakotas and parts of surrounding states known as the Prairie Pothole region are required to plant a crop a crop on acreage at least once in the past four years to remain eligible for prevented-planting coverage on those acres. In the spring, that requirement will be applied nationally. Under the requirement, acreage in 2021 will have to have been planted, insured and harvested -- or received a claim for loss if not harvested -- for at least one in for crop years from 2017-2020.

Martin Barbre, RMA's administrator, said the change, and others, come after a task force formed following 2019 when farmers reported nearly 20 million acres of prevented-planting claims.

“After unprecedented prevented planting in 2019, I thought it was incredibly important to examine how prevented planting policy can be improved,” Barbre said. “Over the past few months, RMA has engaged producer groups, insurance agents, and Approved Insurance Providers in discussion through a prevented planting taskforce with the goal to improve prevented planting for producers when they really need it, but not to incentivize it.”

RMA also changed a rule that will allow a farmer to collect prevented-planting payments on acres that ended up planted with an uninsured crop. Basically, a farmer will be allowed to plant an uninsured second crop following a failed first insurance crop. The uninsured second crop acres will not be subtracted from prevented-planting coverage, USDA stated.

Under another change, USDA will also allow a farmer to change a crop intentions on part of a field after a final planting date and still keep a prevented-planting claim on part of the field. If a farmer intended to plant corn, but was prevented by the final planting date, the farmer an instead plant soybeans on a portion of the field. The res of the field not planted to soybeans would still be eligible for a prevented-planting claim for corn. The farmer may be required to provide documentation showing they had intended to plant corn on the entire field, USDA stated. That would be proven through seed and other input receipts.

Another change will allow a farmer to use the intended acreage report for the first two consecutive crop years instead of just the first crop year. This is a change for farmers who acquire new ground in a county, for instance. USDA stated this will help farmers with crop-rotation considerations.

Earlier this week, RMA also announced the agency is allowing producers in parts of North Dakota and South Dakota to hay, graze and cut cover crops on prevented-planted acres after Sept. 1. This follows last year's plan, which included more states, to move up the haying and grazing deadline on prevented-planting acres from Nov. 1. USDA this year limited the move in haying and grazing date to just the Dakotas because of forage concerns.

"“Farmers in the Dakotas have seen excessive moisture over the winter and into this spring, and we made this one-year adjustment to help farmers remain good stewards of the land and provide an opportunity to ensure quality forage is available for livestock this fall,” said Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation.

Not all counties in each state were allowed to hay and graze those cover crops early. Eligible counties are listed here:…

USDA provided more details on the new crop-insurance requirements:…

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