Hoeven Again Presses Risk Management For More Flexible Disaster Assistance For North Dakota Producers

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today again pressed USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) Administrator William Murphy to make the agency’s crop insurance rules for Prevented Planting more flexible to aid North Dakota farmers in flood-impacted areas of the state. 

Hoeven met with Murphy in early May to press for a more accessible program for producers who have suffered losses due to prolonged flooding throughout North Dakota. He followed up with a letter urging the administrator to adjust current policy, considering the extraordinary circumstances of flooding statewide, including Devils Lake, the Souris River Basin and the Missouri River Basin. 

The existing Prevented Planting policy does not allow a claim on any farmland inundated for more than two years in a row or on farmland for which the initial cause of loss occurred in a prior year. This policy adversely affects many farmers in the Devils Lake area, which is currently in a wet cycle.  The changes Hoeven is pressing for would be especially helpful to them, many of whom have experienced heavy rains for two consecutive years and have thousands of acres under water. 

Hoeven has also been pushing the agency to make the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP), the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and other federal assistance more easily available for farmers to help with unproductive or inundated land.  However, these programs have long easement durations and many acres are ineligible for them because of the amount of water on the land, making access to Prevented Planting a necessity.  Hoeven has pushed for shorter easements. 

Changing the Prevented Planting policy will help more farmers that are caught in between the current policy and other available programs. Devils Lake, for example, now has an additional 140,000 acres inundated, or about 215 square miles, compared to its area in 1994, when the lake was 44,000 acres. Much of that land will be put back into production once the lake recedes. 

“Farmers throughout North Dakota have endured real hardship, financially and personally,” Hoeven said. “It’s vitally important that the USDA look not only at Prevented Planting, but at the full range of emergency programs available to help farmers make it through these very difficult flood years.”