Change to prevented-planting program helps flooded farmers

A modification to a federal crop insurance program comes as a welcome relief to South Dakota farmers whose livelihoods are being jeopardized by several years of severe flooding.
The Risk Management Agency has agreed to adjust its prevented-planting provision that would have eliminated eligibility for crop insurance payments on land that’s too wet to farm for three consecutive years. The modification adjusts the restriction to four consecutive years.
The South Dakota Corn Growers Association commended the RMA and Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who pressed the agency to add one year.
“We’re grateful to Sen. Thune and his staff for pushing the RMA to change its rule,” said Gary Duffy, president of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association. “Many farmers have been unable to plant their productive farm ground for three years because of extreme snow melt and rainfall. This is land they harvested for decades, and the policy would have unfairly penalized them for factors beyond their control. Nature has already dished out a heavy punishment.”
Prevented-planting provisions in insurance policies provide coverage when extreme weather conditions prevent expected plantings. Under the revised policy, any land that didn't produce a crop at least once from 2008 through this crop year would be ineligible for the prevented-planting insurance next spring. Under the original proposal, 2009 would have been the starting year.
During a meeting with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and RMA administrators, Thune shared his concerns that the three-year restriction could result in financial hardship for flooded farmers, particularly those in northeastern South Dakota. He said the flooding in that flat region is like pouring water on pool table.
“With grain prices high, farmers have been doing everything they possibly can to plant during this wet spring. It’s heart-breaking when they can’t get into their fields because they’re flooded. Through Sen. Thune’s leadership, we’re able to tack on a year to the prevented-planting provision, which will provide some much-needed relief to our flooded farmers,” SDCGA Executive Director Lisa Richardson said. “Prevented planting coverage is critical to keeping many farming operations with spring-planted crops in eastern South Dakota in business when they are unable to plant and harvest a crop.”
Much of eastern South Dakota is part of what’s known as the Prairie Pothole Region of North America, which extends from north-central Iowa to central Alberta, Canada. Glaciers left behind a landscape dotted with many wetlands and sloughs. Several years of wet weather have flooded tens of thousands of acres, as well as county and township roads
 

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