Ag groups ask USDA's Vilsack to waive forage use date

Jun 21, 2013
by WLJ

Nine Iowa farm, lending and wildlife organizations are asking USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to take immediate action to waive the Nov. 1 date linked to grazing and haying of cover crops on prevented planting acres. Currently, if a cover crop on those acres is harvested before Nov. 1, the farmers’ prevented planting payment will be reduced to 35 percent of the production guarantee.

“A historic drought for Iowa during the summer of 2012 and now the wettest spring on record are driving this request,” said Ed Greiman, the Garner farmer who is president of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA).

“As cattlemen and other livestock producers work through already tight feed and forage supplies, both feedlot and cow/calf producers will have to manage limited forage stocks and potentially prepare for herd liquidation due to availability concerns.”

“If the secretary will waive that Nov. 1 date, Iowa livestock producers will have assurance that they will have access to forage in a timely manner, and it will incent protection of cropped acres through the use of cover crops,” Greiman said.

Current acres enrolled in the federal crop insurance program can be planted to cover crops, but waiting until after Nov. 1 to harvest those acres is very risky because of weather concerns, and the loss of the prime nutrition available from the cover crop, Greiman said.

“Your immediate action to lift the Nov. 1 date linked to Risk Management Agency and Farm Service Agency policies would serve as an incentive for all Iowa farmers to plant cover crops on prevented planting acres,” the letter said.

“That would lead to multiple benefits—including soil and water conservation, capturing pre-plant nutrient loads and providing much needed forage for livestock farmers. Your attention to this matter is urgent, so farmers can be informed of this option, and be prepared to plant forages soon after the June 25 late planting date for corn deadline,” the letter concluded. — WLJ