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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) decision to move up its administratively mandated November 1 date for haying and grazing cover crops on prevent plant acres to September 1, which will not result in a reduction in producers’ prevent plant indemnity payments. USDA’s decision comes one week after Thune convened a meeting with USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky and USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey during which Thune relayed South Dakota producers’ concerns and strongly encouraged USDA to allow for early, penalty-free haying and grazing of cover crops given this year’s tough growing conditions.
“I’ve been advocating for this common-sense change for months,” said Thune. “I was glad to have received a call about today’s announcement from Deputy Secretary Steve Censky, whom I personally urged to make this decision just last week, and it follows on with a bipartisan effort I led with several members of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“You don’t have to talk to more than two producers in South Dakota to realize that waiting until November 1 to allow them to either graze or mechanically harvest cover crops without an indemnity reduction on their prevent plant acres is far too late, particularly with South Dakota’s uncertain fall and winter weather. It’s arbitrary, and it sets an inequitable standard that puts some states at a greater advantage than others based simply on their geographical location. For example, by November 1, cover crops could still be growing in places like Missouri, while parts of South Dakota will likely have already seen frost or snow. This will be welcome news in the agriculture community, and USDA should be applauded for listening to producers’ needs and concerns and acting accordingly and in as timely a way as possible.”
Thanks to Thune’s requested change, starting on September 1, with no reduction in their prevent plant indemnity payment, insured producers with prevent plant claims will now be able to graze and harvest hay or silage cover crops that were planted on acres where other insured crops, like corn or soybeans, were unable to be planted due to poor conditions. This policy change applies to the 2019 crop year only.
Thune’s office first contacted USDA about this issue in early May, and on June 6, Thune led a bipartisan group of his Senate Agriculture Committee colleagues in writing to USDA to urge them to make this administrative change as quickly as possible. Earlier this week, Thune spoke on the Senate floor on the importance of moving up the haying and grazing date on prevented plant acres.