Hoeven: USDA to Allow Haying, Grazing & Chopping of Cover Crops at Any Time Without Penalty

Senator Introduced Legislation, Advanced Efforts to Provide Flexibility for Producers Utilizing Cover Crops on Prevented Plant Acres

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) will now allow producers to hay, graze or chop cover crops on prevented plant acres at any time while still receiving their full crop insurance indemnity. Prior to this, producers would face a penalty for haying, grazing or chopping cover crops on prevented plant prior to November 1.

Today’s announcement aligns with Hoeven’s efforts to provide flexibility to farmers when utilizing cover crops, which help prevent erosion and preserve soil health on unplanted acres, while also providing an additional source of feed for livestock producers. To this end, Hoeven raised this issue with RMA Acting Director Richard Flournoy during the senator’s recent drought tour in North Dakota. Hoeven also:

  • Introduced the bicameral, bipartisan FEEDD Act earlier this year with Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) to:
    • Create an emergency waiver authority to allow haying, grazing or chopping of a cover crop on prevented plant acres before November 1 to address feed shortages due to excessive moisture, flood or drought.
    • Enable the Agriculture Secretary to move up the haying and grazing date for states in the northern part of the country.
  • Worked with USDA, including then-Agriculture Secretary Perdue, to provide an earlier haying and grazing date in 2019 and 2020 to provide relief to producers facing forage shortages. 
  • Secured language in the Fiscal Year 2021 Agriculture Appropriations bill directing RMA to provide flexibility to producers wishing to utilize cover crops on prevented plant acres before November 1.  

“We’ve worked to advance this flexibility as it empowers farmers and ranchers to better care for their land and adapt to local challenges, like severe weather, drought, flooding and feed shortages,” Hoeven said. “The one-size-fits-all approach didn’t work for our producers, especially those in northern states like North Dakota, and I appreciate USDA for working with us to remove the November 1 requirement for utilizing cover crops.”

Today’s announcement is effective for the 2021 crop year and beyond. Producers should contact their crop insurance agent or visit rma.usda.gov for more information.