U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Risk Management Agency for implementing their recommendation to remove the arbitrary November 1 restriction for harvesting or grazing cover crops on prevented plant acres, which will give greater flexibility to producers in northern areas of the United States.
“I have been a staunch advocate for this common-sense change for years, and I’m glad to see USDA is implementing our recommendation to remove the November 1 restriction,” said Thune. “It’s imperative for Congress and this administration to support producers who use cover crops by working to remove arbitrary barriers in order to ensure their success.”
“With this update, USDA will encourage more cover cropping by making sure farmers don’t face a crop insurance penalty when extreme weather causes them to miss planting season,” said Stabenow. “That’s going to mean healthier soils, less erosion and better capacity to capture carbon, and it’s why Senator Thune and I called for this similar approach in the Cover Crop Flexibility Act.”
Thune and Stabenow have long worked to address the November 1 restriction. In 2019, Thune and Stabenow’s effort led USDA to make an administrative change – only for the year – that allowed for penalty-free harvesting and grazing, which significantly benefited states like South Dakota and Michigan. In 2020, Thune and Stabenow again requested that USDA move up the November 1 date to September 1, but the department only provided flexibility in certain counties in South Dakota and North Dakota. In April, Thune and Stabenow reintroduced legislation to remove the prohibition on harvesting or grazing cover crops on prevented plant acres prior to November.