USDA will let farmers make hay earlier on cover crops

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USDA RMA cover crops haying grazing

WASHINGTON — Farmers who planted cover crops on prevented plant acres will be permitted to hay, graze or chop those fields earlier than November this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The announcement was made June 20.

USDA’s Risk Management Agency 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.

FAQ from RMA on cover crops and prevented planting

The USDA has also determined that silage, haylage and baleage should be treated in the same manner as haying and grazing for this year. Producers can hay, graze or cut cover crops for silage, haylage or baleage on prevented plant acres on or after Sept. 1 and still maintain eligibility for their full 2019 prevented planting indemnity.

“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 Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey.

These adjustments have been made for 2019 only, according to RMA Administrator Martin Barbre, who also said the agency will evaluate a permanent adjustment moving forward.

Other USDA programs

Other USDA agencies are also assisting producers with delayed or prevented planting.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is extending the deadline to report prevented plant acres in select counties, and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is holding special sign-ups for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program in certain states to help with planting cover crops on impacted lands.

“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,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson, of Minnesota, in a prepared statement following the announcement.

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