Hoeven: Prevented Plant Decision Step in Right Direction

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today said USDA’s Risk Management Agency’s (RMA) decision to extend the eligibility for prevented planting coverage from one in three years to one in four is a step in the right direction. Hoeven has been pressing RMA for more flexible rules that will benefit farmers throughout the state who have suffered losses owing to prolonged flooding. 

The new rule will be helpful to Devils Lake producers, who have experienced heavy rains for two consecutive years and have thousands of acres under water. The old Prevented Planting policy does not allow a Prevented Plant claim on any farm land inundated for more than two years in a row or on farm land for which the initial cause of loss occurred in a prior year, which adversely affects many farmers in Devils Lake, who are currently in a wet cycle. 

The Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) and the Conservation Land Program (CRP) are other available programs used by farmers in the Devils Lake area to help with unproductive or inundated land.  However, these programs have long easement durations and many acres are ineligible for the programs because of the amount of water on the land.  

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

“It’s possible that a quarter of North Dakota’s cropland could remain unplanted this year, which makes programs like protected plant especially important,” Hoeven said.  “It’s vitally important, however, that the USDA look not only at Prevented Plant, but at all options available to help farmers make it through these difficult flood years.” 

Senator Hoeven called on RMA Administrator Murphy last month to adjust the agency’s current crop insurance rules to make the Prevented Planting provision more accessible to Devils Lake farmers. He followed up with a letter last week, urging the administrator to adjust the policy considering the extraordinary circumstances of Devils Lake flooding.