North Dakota agriculture groups appeal to Perdue for prevent plant flexibility

North Dakota Stockmen’s Association
Farm Forum

A coalition of eight North Dakota agricultural organizations sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue this morning, appealing his earlier decision not to adjust prevented plant haying and grazing dates. The groups reiterated their request to allow producers to graze or harvest cover crops on prevented plant acres prior to Nov. 1.

The letter was sent by the North Dakota Corn Growers Association, North Dakota Farm Bureau, North Dakota Farmers Union, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, North Dakota Soybean Growers Association, North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, Northern Pulse Growers Association and U.S. Durum Growers Association.

The groups reasoned that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disasters for agriculture, and a shortage of meat processing capacity has created a backlog of livestock and a need to continue to feed. “This is a problem that won’t go away overnight,” they wrote, “and relieving some pressure for producers by guaranteeing a food source is critical.”

They acknowledged that the U.S. Department of Agriculture may be wary of creating a precedent by moving up these dates, as the department had previously in 2019 because of excessive spring flooding. They pointed out; however, that North Dakota’s prevented plant acreage is expected to exceed 2.5 million acres in 2020, far higher than the 860,000 acres reported in 2019. Furthermore, the current haying and grazing date unnecessarily penalizes producers in Northern states who often face early winters that prevent the use of cover crops after Nov. 1, they said.

“We encourage USDA to move up the date for grazing, haying or chopping cover crops on these acres from Nov. 1 to Sept. 1 due to the extraordinary situation that producers are facing,” they concluded.