Legislation with bipartisan sponsors has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday. It seeks emergency provisions for U.S. crop and livestock farmers to utilize Prevent Plant acres for raising desperately needed forages.
According to Michigan Farm Bureau Livestock Specialist Ernie Birchmeier, the Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters Act, or the “FEEDD Act,” would provide farmers additional emergency flexibility to help alleviate pending feed shortages during planting seasons with high levels of prevent plant due to extreme moisture or drought.
“The FEEDD Act would create an emergency waiver authority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow producers to graze, hay or harvest a forage crop before Nov. 1 in the event of a feed shortage due to excessive moisture, flood or drought,” Birchmeier said. “With this waiver, producers would not have to take a further discount on their crop insurance Prevented Plant indemnity.”
Currently, under the Federal Crop Insurance Prevent Plant provisions, producers who are unable to plant a crop due to adverse weather conditions are eligible to receive an indemnity but are prohibited from planting a crop intended for forage harvest until Aug. 1. More importantly, they are not allowed to harvest that forage crop until after Nov. 1, long after a killing frost resulting in diminished feed quality.
“As of mid-June, a large number of Michigan dairy farmers are quickly running out of forage inventory and have not been able to plant any corn for silage or grain, meaning forage inventory problems will only get worse this fall,” Birchmeier added. “Additionally, the same rains that have delayed corn planting are also delaying timely hay harvest on water-logged fields, assuming their alfalfa stands survived severe winter-kill damage.”
In a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue last week, farm bureaus in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio, along with the Michigan Cattlemen’s Association, Dairy Farmers of America and Michigan Milk Producers Association, submitted a written request, seeking emergency provisions allowing the planting and harvesting of forages on prevented plant acres without date restrictions.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall called the legislation a “common-sense approach to helping livestock producers and farmers alike.”
“This year, so far has been unprecedented for American farmers, and this pragmatic approach allows farmers flexibility in the management of their land, while allowing for livestock forage to be grown,” Duvall said.
Stressing that time is of the essence, MFB National Legislative Counsel John Kran said the organization has officially signed on to a rapidly growing list of organizations supporting the bill.
“There is hope it can be added to the Ag Appropriations bill that’s scheduled for a vote before the full House next week,” Kran said. “While USDA is reviewing their authority waiving the Prevent Plant date restrictions, the bill would provide more long term direction.
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