Hoeven & Baldwin Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Alleviate Feed Shortages

Senators’ Bill Provides Flexibility for Haying and Grazing of Cover Crops

WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) today introduced the Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters with Cover Crops (FEEDD) Act, bipartisan legislation to provide farmers and ranchers additional flexibility to alleviate feed shortages in years with widespread excessive moisture, flooding or drought. Specifically, the bill would:

  • Create an emergency waiver authority for the Secretary of Agriculture to allow for haying, grazing or chopping of a cover crop on prevented plant acres before November 1 in the event of a feed shortage due to excessive moisture, flood or drought.
    • Under this waiver, producers would not see a reduction of their crop insurance indemnity.
  • Direct the Secretary to establish regional haying and grazing dates for each crop year.
    • The current date, November 1, is set on a nationwide basis and disadvantages producers in the upper Midwest.
    • This would provide flexibility for the Secretary to move up the haying and grazing date for states in the northern part of the country.
  • Maintain crop insurance program integrity and will have no impact on a producers’ Actual Production History (APH). 

“Cover crops are an important tool that enable farmers to better maintain their land and provide an important source of feed for livestock,” said Senator Hoeven. “It makes sense to provide adequate flexibility in USDA’s rules for cover crops to address disasters, differences in regional climates and local feed shortages. That’s exactly what our bill will provide, while preserving crop insurance program integrity and preventing penalties for farmers.” 

“In Wisconsin, when farmers lose a crop to flooding, drought, or other extreme weathers events, they are left with tough choices about how to make up for crop losses and protect their soil from erosion,” said Senator Baldwin.  “This bipartisan legislation will give farmers more certainty about their feed options in disaster years. By reducing uncertainty for farmers, we’re working to ease one of the headaches they face when deciding about putting in cover crops, which will benefit soil health on the farm and water quality in our communities.” 

This legislation follows Hoeven’s efforts in 2019 and 2020 to provide relief to producers facing forage shortages caused by record levels of prevented plant acres across North Dakota. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Angie Craig (D-Minn.) are introducing companion legislation in the House.

“A one-sized-fits-all approach doesn’t always work, and the cover crop harvest date is a good example where this approach falls short,” said Representative Johnson. “I’m grateful USDA provided an administrative fix to the prevent plant harvest date deadline in 2019 after unprecedented flooding in states like South Dakota, but this date flexibility needs to be permanent and regionally tailored. The government can’t control the weather, but we can enhance predictability for producers when disasters hit.”

“Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, Congress has a responsibility to provide farmers and ranchers the flexibility they need to do their jobs successfully,” said Representative Craig. “The FEEDD Act will help to support ag producers in Minnesota at no cost to the taxpayer – while incentivizing the planting of cover crops to protect the health and quality of farmers’ soil in Minnesota. I’m proud to help lead this bipartisan, commonsense effort and look forward to its passage in the House.” 

The FEED Act is endorsed by the North Dakota Corn Growers Association, North Dakota Farmers Union, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, Ag Retailers Association, American Bankers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sheep Industry Association, American Soybean Association, Ducks Unlimited, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, Farm Credit Council, Independent Community Bankers of America, Midwest Dairy Coalition, National Association of Conservation Districts, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, National Milk Producers Federation, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Durum Growers Association, and U.S. Cattlemen’s Association. Industry statements in support of the legislation can be found here.