Ag Policy Blog

Senators Introduce Emergency Haying and Grazing Bill

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate would allow more emergency authority for haying and grazing cover crops planted on prevented-planting acres before Nov. 1 in the event of a feed shortage due to excessive moisture, flood or drought. This was a major situation in 2019 when flooding led to 20 million acres of prevented-planting and USDA encouraged cover crops on that ground. (DTN file photo)

Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and ranking member John Hoeven, R-N.D., on Tuesday introduced the Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters with Cover Crops (FEEDD) Act, bipartisan legislation to provide farmers and ranchers additional flexibility to alleviate feed shortages in years with widespread excessive moisture, flooding or drought.

Specifically, the bill would:

- Create an emergency waiver authority for the Agriculture secretary to allow for haying, grazing or chopping of a cover crop on prevented plant acres before November 1 in the event of a feed shortage due to excessive moisture, flood or drought.

- Under this waiver, producers would not see a reduction of their crop insurance indemnity.

- Direct the secretary to establish regional haying and grazing dates for each crop year. The current date, November 1, is set on a nationwide basis and disadvantages producers in the upper Midwest. This would provide flexibility for the secretary to move up the haying and grazing date for states in the northern part of the country.

- Maintain crop insurance program integrity, having no impact on a producers' Actual Production History (APH).

This was a major situation in 2019 when flooding led to 20 million acres of prevented-planting and USDA encouraged cover crops on that ground. To encourage livestock haying and grazing, USDA granted emergency haying and grazing changes to allow those fields to be used on September 1 without affecting the prevented-planting indemnity.

“In Wisconsin, when farmers lose a crop to flooding, drought, or other extreme weathers events, they are left with tough choices about how to make up for crop losses and protect their soil from erosion,” Baldwin said. “This bipartisan legislation will give farmers more certainty about their feed options in disaster years. By reducing uncertainty for farmers, we're working to ease one of the headaches they face when deciding about putting in cover crops, which will benefit soil health on the farm and water quality in our communities.”

“Cover crops are an important tool that enable farmers to better maintain their land and provide an important source of feed for livestock,” said Hoeven. “It makes sense to provide adequate flexibility in USDA's rules for cover crops to address disasters, differences in regional climates and local feed shortages. That's exactly what our bill will provide, while preserving crop insurance program integrity and preventing penalties for farmers.”

Reps. Angie Craig, D-Minn., and Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., are introducing companion legislation in the House.

A wide range of farm groups support the legislation.

House Ag Announces Climate Hearing Witness List

The House Agriculture Committee has released a witness list for its hearing Thursday on climate change.

The following will be witnesses at the hybrid hearing:

- Jim Cantore, senior meteorologist, The Weather Channel, Atlanta

- Pamela Knox, agricultural climatologist and director of Weather Network, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.

- Zippy Duvall, president, American Farm Bureau Federation

- Gabe Brown, farmer and rancher, Brown's Ranch, Bismarck, N.D.

- Michael Shellenberger, president, Environmental Progress, Berkeley, Calif.

The hearing will be held at 11:30 a.m. Central.

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@nationaljournal.com

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport

Comments

To comment, please Log In or Join our Community .