Bill Would Give Producers Flexibility on Cover Crop Use

Senators John Thune of South Dakota and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan introduced the Cover Crop Flexibility Act of 2020 last week. The legislation would permanently remove the prohibition on harvesting or grazing cover crops on prevented plant acres before November 1. Producers would be allowed to graze or harvest cover crops for hay or silage and eliminate an arbitrary date that allowed farmers with longer growing seasons more opportunities than those in northern states. Farmers would still have to plant cover crops on approved lists to prevent manipulation of that flexibility. It would also allow USDA to include cover crop seed and grazing-related costs when it sets the factor that’s used to calculate the prevented planting indemnity, as well as direct USDA to conduct a study to examine the extent that cover crops reduce risks of prevented planting and other crop insurance losses. Thune says, “This common-sense legislation would permanently remove the date restriction, which would help level the playing field and give our producers the certainty they need as they prepare for another potentially difficult year.” Stabenow adds, “When bad weather causes farmers to miss planting season as we did in Michigan last spring, it makes sense to help them get the best use out of their land.”