Hoeven Calls on USDA Risk Management to Adhere to New Preventive Plant Eligibility Rules

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today called on Risk Management Agency Administrator William Murphy to honor the terms of the revised rules for Prevented Planting that the agency implemented last year to make the program more flexible for North Dakota farmers in flood-impacted areas of the state.

The senator last year had urged the administrator to adjust the policy, considering the severity of flooding statewide. In June of 2011 Murphy announced a change in qualification requirements for farmers in “prairie pothole states” who wanted to obtain prevented planting insurance.

The change was designed, as the senator requested, to assist farmers who had experienced difficulties due to excessive moisture in their fields over recent years. The agency said beginning with the 2012 crop year a crop must be grown on the acreage at least one of the previous four years if a farmer wished to qualify. In addition to North Dakota, the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota were covered by the change. Earlier this month, however, the agency decided to apply a provision to the program that was formerly applied inconsistently.

“North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers, particularly in the prairie pothole region, including Devils Lake, have faced enormous challenges that we worked to address with more flexible, more responsive eligibility rules for Risk Management’s Protected Plant program,” Hoeven said. “To change the rules or to arbitrarily reinterpret a rule undermines the entire intent of last year’s program change, which is to help producers through a multiple year disaster event.”

The former Prevented Planting policy didn’t 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. The policy adversely affected many farmers in the prairie pot hole region, 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.