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Thune Seeks Assistance for Livestock Producers Following Excessive Flooding

Sends letter to Ag Secretary requesting prevented planting flexibility

July 1, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC —  Senator John Thune, along with Senator Johnson and Representative Herseth Sandlin, today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting that South Dakota livestock producers who are unable to generate adequate forage for their livestock this year-due to excessive rainfall and subsequent flooding-be allowed to harvest secondary crops on prevented planting acreage prior to November 1, 2010, without penalty.

"Many of our farmers and ranchers have endured severe flooding this year and stand to lose significant profits from decreased forage production on unproductive acres," said Thune. "Allowing planting flexibility on areas designated as prevented planting acreage prior to November 1st will enable producers to provide feed for their livestock, and help them through the tough economic conditions they currently face."

The prevented planting rules are designed to prevent livestock producers from collecting both prevented planting funds, and profits from a subsequent crop with a later planting date. In light of this year's severe weather conditions, flexibility with the prevented planting guidelines is warranted for South Dakota producers.

Text of the delegation's letter is below.

July 1, 2010

Secretary Tom Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

We write in regards to producers who have been severely impacted by this spring's rainfall and flooding on their acreage, subsequently affecting available land for production. Because this rainfall and flooding has reduced the number of available acres for production this year, many agricultural operations won't be able to produce adequate forage for their livestock. We write seeking flexibility for prevented planting coverage restrictions with the goal of enabling impacted operations to produce adequate feed stocks.

As you know, producers are restricted from harvesting or grazing subsequently planted cover crops after the first prevented planting claim until November 1st without incurring a 65% reduction in prevented planting benefits. Additionally, the Actual Production History (APH) for included acres is recorded at 60% of actual APH if a producer harvests or grazes a secondary crop prior to the November 1st deadline. We can appreciate that the intention behind such a restriction is to ensure that mistreatment of program benefits is marginalized. However, we are also concerned that given the tremendous hardships many producers are facing in light of this spring and summer's unrelenting rainfall, some wiggle room in the November 1st date is appropriate this year so as to minimize financial hardships for these farmers.

We believe that some modifications in the prevented planting coverage to specifically accommodate those livestock producers impacted this year by inordinate rainfall would be enormously helpful to ensuring our farmers are not unnecessarily harmed. We suggest allowing producers that won't be able to produce adequate forage for their livestock this year be allowed to harvest feed crops for their operations prior to November 1st without incurring the 65% reduction in prevented planting benefits and the 60% of actual APH yield on the prevented planting acreage.

We thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this very important request.

Tim Johnson John Thune Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
U.S. Senate U.S. Senate Member of Congress

Cc: RMA Administrator Bill Murphy