Farmers in 19 South Dakota counties are now allowed to hay, graze or chop cover crops on prevented plant acres – two months earlier than normal.
The South Dakota Corn Growers Association has been a strong advocate for a policy change and worked closely with our congressional delegation as we pushed for a date change. Together, we succeeded in getting it done.
The USDA’s Risk Management Agency announced Aug. 17 that it was changing the date from Nov. 1 to Sept. 1.
South Dakota counties that qualify for the early date are Beadle, Brown, Brule, Campbell, Clark, Codington, Day, Edmunds, Faulk, Hand, Hanson, Hyde, McPherson, Marshall, Potter, Roberts, Sanborn, Spink and Walworth. In North Dakota, 23 counties qualified.
The original date of Nov. 1 put farmers in northern states like South Dakota at a disadvantage, especially considering the uncertain fall and winter weather.
Because excessive moisture and flooding throughout much of South Dakota and North Dakota prevented farmers from planting their intended crops, many turned to cover crops once the fields were dry enough to plant.
Mike Cronin, a SDCGA board member who farms near Gettysburg and has livestock, said the date change was welcome news. He had planted a quarter and a half of prevented plant acres to sudan grass and German millet. On Sept. 1, because of the policy change, he was able to start cutting it for livestock feed.
“We used so much of our feed the last two years. The grass was so bad,” he said. “We really need that feed.”
The change allows farmers to hay, graze or cut cover crops for silage, haylage or baleage on prevented plant acres and still maintain eligibility for their full 2020 prevented planting indemnity. It helps ensure that quality forage will be available for livestock.
Cronin said the date change will be even more beneficial in the region east and north of Gettysburg where it has been extremely dry and crops are in bad shape.
“They were really needing the change,” he said.
This is a one-year adjustment. However, Sen. John Thune and Rep. Dusty Johnson, who are members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees, are working on a plan to make Sept. 1 a permanent date.
“I will continue working on a long-term legislative solution to permanently remove this date restriction, which would help level the playing field and give our producers the certainty they need,” Thune said.
Johnson added, “Our producers continue to request changes to the prevented plant harvest date and for the last two years we’ve been able to get that done. This is good news for our farmers and ranchers, but I will continue to push for legislative solutions like the FEEDD Act to provide more certainty to our producers facing unpredictable South Dakota winters.”
FEEDD, the Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters Act would give farmers and ranchers additional emergency flexibility to help alleviate feed concerns, as well as promote conservation in years of excessive moisture, flooding and drought.
Last year, when a date change was announced, RMA Administrator Martin Barbre said the agency would “evaluate the prudence of a permanent adjustment moving forward.”
The South Dakota Corn Growers Association believes it would be a very prudent decision to set Sept. 1 as a permanent date to allow haying, grazing and chopping on prevented plant acres. We will continue to advocate for that change and strongly support Sen. Thune and Rep. Johnson in their efforts.