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Senators Urge USDA to Expedite Crop Insurance Guidelines
USAgNet - 06/10/2019

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues in urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expedite the development of the cover crop guidelines that were established in the 2018 farm bill. As a member of the Farm Bill Conference Committee, Brown helped secure provisions to improve the Crop Insurance Coverage program. Cover crops have been shown to improve soil health, which reduces run-off and protects water quality.

"According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture published last month, between 2012 and 2017, cover crops on average increased 50 percent nationwide, with the Corn Belt states reaching nearly an 80 percent increase, and with five states in the Midwest having more than a 100 percent increase," the senators wrote. "While much progress needs to be achieved across the country in order to reach our cover cropping potential, there has been noteworthy progress to date, and finalization of Section 11107 guidance soon can maintain this momentum."

The senators also requested that haying and grazing of cover crops on prevent plant acres be allowed prior to the current USDA-mandated Nov. 1 harvest date. The senators believe that November 1 is too late to feasibly graze or mechanically harvest forage crops in most northern states, and it discourages planting soil-protecting cover crops on prevent plant acres in these states because harvesting or grazing prior to November 1 results in a reduction in prevent plant payments. An earlier harvest date would provide more equitable treatment for the thousands of producers who are forced to utilize prevent plant this year and would result in soil-building cover crops on substantially more acres.

The letter was led by Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and Dick Durbin of Illinois and was also signed by Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Tina Smith of Minnesota, and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

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