Extreme weather is threatening crop production on several fronts this season – A scorching drought has withered the winter wheat crop in the Southern Plains. Historic flooding has swamped states along the Mississippi. Cool, wet weather has stymied planting efforts in the Northern Plains, Canadian Prairies and Eastern Corn Belt.
Speaking of the Northern Plains – leaders from several regional commodity groups held a roundtable discussion Wednesday with Risk Management Agency officials in Casselton, North Dakota. The performance of federal crop insurance system and the tough planting situation this spring were the top items of discussion.
Doug Hagel, the RMA’s regional office director in Billings, Montana says although an official tally isn’t available yet, this could be one of the worst years on record for unplanted acreage in the Northern Plains.
While visiting with producers, Hagel says there was talk about changing some of the final planting dates for crop insurance coverage.
Meanwhile, Risk Management Agency Administrator Bill Murphy says changes are on the way for prevented planting eligibility beginning in the 2012 crop year.
While this year’s weather problems are unique, Murphy says lessons learned from past natural disasters are providing guidance.
Budget belts have been getting tighter for many government agencies, but Murphy is confident that his agency and the private industry will have the manpower and resources to handle the multiple weather disasters this year.
Murphy and Hagel met with commodity group leaders at the Tharaldson Ethanol plant, just west of Cassleton, North Dakota.
Rusty Halvorson-Farm Director