Hoeven: USDA Moves Up Haying and Grazing Date For Cover Crops to September 1

Senator Pressed USDA to Provide This Flexibility for Producers Using Cover Crops on Prevent Plant Acres

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has heeded his call to provide an earlier haying and grazing date for agriculture producers using cover crops on prevent plant acres. USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) will now allow haying and grazing of cover crops on September 1 in 2019 moving the previous cover crop date up from November 1. Additionally, producers will be able to hay, graze or cut cover crops for silage, haylage or baleage on prevented plant acres beginning on September 1 and remain eligible for their full 2019 prevented planting indemnity.

Hoeven urged USDA to provide an earlier date after hearing concerns from producers at a roundtable he held in Mandan last month. Accordingly, he raised the issue with USDA officials, including in a call to Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky and a bipartisan letter he signed to USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey. The certainty provided by an earlier haying and grazing date will encourage the greater use of cover crops, which help in reducing soil erosion, improving soil health, weed suppression and moisture retention.

“We appreciate USDA heeding our call to provide an earlier date for haying and grazing of cover crops on prevent plant acres,” said Hoeven. “This earlier date will help producer to better utilize cover crops, which are an important tool for our farmers that allows prevent plant acres to be better maintained.” 

The 2018 Farm Bill established a clear definition for cover crop termination; however, the RMA has yet to implement this section of the law. The RMA also requires producers to wait until November 1 before haying or grazing the cover crops on prevent plant acres. This creates uncertainty for producers, as unpredictable weather may prevent the utilization of the cover crop. Further, haying or grazing prior to November 1 may result in the loss of eligibility for federal crop insurance. These factors have limited the adoption of cover crops, despite their benefits.