As Mother Nature continues to hammer the Corn Belt with wet weather, livestock producers are starting to worry that producing enough forage for livestock won’t be an option this year. That’s why Representatives Dusty Johnson (D-SD) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) introduced H.R.3183 - Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters Act (FEEDD Act).
This bill would allow farmers to harvest cover crops before Nov. 1.
According to Johnson, plant prevention insurance claims are made when farmers are prevented from planting crops and they are expected to plant a cover crop on the unplanted acres.
He said these crops have nutritional value for cattle and other livestock and could provide the necessary forage to help herds through the end of the season.
“Producers that I’m talking to say they don’t want another government program. They can’t feed their livestock dollar bills. So, what they want is just a little bit more flexibility to be able to feed their livestock with products they already have on their own farm or ranch,” Johnson says.
He believes livestock producers and their forage needs are not being adequately represented on Capitol Hill.
“I’ve heard the word ‘soybeans’ probably a hundred times on the floor of the U.S. House, between the China negotiations and the wet spring, but one word I have not heard a single time on the house floor is ‘forage,’” Johnson says.
The bill has gained widespread support throughout the dairy industry. It is endorsed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the National Milk Producers Federation and Edge Dairy Cooperative in Wisconsin.
"Usually farmers can buy what they weren’t able to grow to account for any shortages. But these wet conditions are so widespread throughout the Midwest, it's looking like there will not be enough forage available," says Aaron Stauffacher, associate director of government affairs for Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative.
According to Stauffacher, the Nov. 1 rule is meant to keep producers from "double-dipping," by getting a prevent plant payment and the financial benefit of forage. But this year, he says farmers need an exception.
The bill is sponsored by 27 bi-partisan members of the House.