A bipartisan bill has been introduced in Congress that aims to help farmers and ranchers in handling feed and forage shortages following recent natural disasters. The Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters Act (FEEDD Act) was put forward by U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and Angie Craig (D-MN) on June 10. The legislation provides greater flexibility to farmers and ranchers during this planting season when high levels of prevent plant are happening because of extreme moisture or drought.
The FEEDD Act would allow producers who utilize prevent plant to at least plant and graze, hay or chop a cover crop before November 1st in the event of a feed shortage due to excessive moisture, flood or drought. Through the waiver, these producers would not have to take a further discount under the Federal Crop Insurance Program.
“Producers are already facing five years of declining net farm incomes and this wet spring has thrown another challenge their way,” says Rep. Johnson. “South Dakota farmers are resilient, but they’ve made it clear – a common-sense solution is needed to alleviate the feed shortage across the country. The FEEDD Act will allow Secretary Perdue to move up the November 1st harvest date on producers prevent plant acres. This simple fix will help ease our feed shortage, enhance the farm safety net, and improve soil health by promoting cover crops. Government can’t control the weather, but we must do what we can to provide certainty to our farmers and ranchers. I will continue to work with the Department on an Administrative fix, but Congress should do what we can to fix this long-term.”
“In the midst of a delayed planting season, falling commodity prices, and limited market access, Congress has a responsibility to provide farmers and ranchers the flexibility they need to do their jobs successfully. This bill takes a critical step toward giving the Secretary explicit authority to waive the November 1st harvest date for cover crops on prevent plant ground,” says Rep. Craig. “While my colleagues and I will continue to work with the USDA to find Administrative ways to address this issue, Congress must take action on this long-standing concern with a long-term solution and pursue all possible avenues for relief. Additionally, by incentivizing the planting of cover crops, we’re building resiliency and feed stability for farmers throughout my district. I’m proud to lead this common-sense, broadly supported, and bipartisan effort.”
The FEEDD Act, also known as H.R.3183, is co-sponsored by 11 other Representatives, including House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN).
The legislation has the backing of a number of associations and businesses. Here is what some of those groups are saying:
- “As farmers and ranchers across the country struggle through a difficult planting season, I am glad to see this common-sense approach to helping livestock producers and farmers alike through allowing the planting of crops for forage after the prevent plant date. This year so far has been unprecedented for American farmers, and this pragmatic approach allows farmers flexibility in the management of their land, while allowing for livestock forage to be grown,” says Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation.
- “Unusually wet weather and widespread flooding have made this spring incredibly challenging for family farmers in ranchers. In many areas, it has been too wet to put seeds in the ground, which has forced many farmers to rely on prevented planting insurance coverage to make ends meet. While prevented planting offers a critical risk management tool, the November 1st harvest date prevents many farmers from utilizing a “second crop” as forage. We applaud Representative Angie Craig and Representative Dusty Johnson for introducing the FEEDD Act, which will provide family farmers and ranchers with important flexibility during yet another tough year for American agriculture,” says Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union.
- “With producers in South Dakota and across the country struggling to deal with the aftermath of natural disasters, the introduction of the FEEDD Act comes at a critical time. Early access to cover crops will help producers manage the worst impacts from this year’s planting season. NBCA appreciates the efforts of U.S. Representative Johnson and the other co-sponsors to provide agricultural producers with much-needed relief,” says Todd Wilkinson, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association policy division vice chairman from De Smet, South Dakota.
- “Mother Nature dealt producers a tough hand this year, but Congress is taking steps to help. The legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Craig and the other co-sponsors will ensure that producers can use their cover crops in a timely fashion. This support is critical for hardworking farmers and ranchers trying to recover,” says Don Schiefelbein, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association policy division chairman from Kimball, Minnesota.
- “We commend Reps. Johnson and Craig for introducing the bipartisan Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters Act. This legislation is a helpful response to the feed shortage that dairy farmers have faced this spring due to intense floods. We urge Congress to pass this legislation without delay so that farmers and ranchers have the flexibility they need to navigate current conditions,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of National Milk Producers Federation.
- “Planting cover crops in a normal year is just the smart thing to do, as it not only helps protect soil from water and wind erosion, but can capture and produce needed nutrients for the following year’s crops. Due to this unusually rainy spring, we are facing the potential for a large number of fields to not be planted, and therefore, it is even more important that producers protect their soil with cover crops over the next year. By providing flexibility for when a producer can utilize cover crop plantings, the Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters Act will encourage the adoption of this important conservation practice while adding forage options as an additional economic incentive,” says Tim Palmer, president of National Association of Conservation Districts from Truro, Iowa.
- “After the spring season we’ve just experienced, this legislation is welcome to allow farmers the chance to make the most of what they can of this growing season. Feed inventories were greatly diminished with the excessive flooding earlier this spring. Whatever inventories dairy and beef farmers had built up over the past few years became pretty valuable after the weather we had late last year. The slow and incredibly wet start to this planting and growing season didn’t help matters either,” says John Rettler, dairy farmer from Neosho, Wisconsin, and president of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative.
- “I want to thank Representatives Johnson and Craig for their leadership on this issue. Our cooperative represents dairy farms throughout the Upper Midwest, and many of them are struggling to get a crop in and are concerned about what the feed outlook is for the coming year. The FEEDD Act will give dairy farmers and other livestock producers much needed flexibility as we work through the challenges caused by an unusually wet spring,” says Mitch Davis, treasurer of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative and general manager of Davis Family Dairies in south-central Minnesota.