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POLICY WATCH

Delegates to Discuss Key Issues at NEFB Annual Meeting and Convention

Following the Nebraska Farm Bureau Policy Forum on Nov. 18, our State Legislative Policy Committee drafted formal state and national policy recommendations that have been presented to NEFB’s House of Delegates for consideration on Tuesday, Dec. 7 during our annual meeting in Kearney.

Delegates will make decisions about whether to add or delete language in our policy on a wide variety of issues; ranging from livestock processing, to cybersecurity and right to repair, to tax incentives for rural housing and daycare development. School funding and curriculum, carbon markets, rolling blackouts, broadband, conservation easements, tax reform/relief, and the beginning farmer assistance are just a few more examples of issues delegates will address.

Our delegate session is Farm Bureau’s grassroots approach to policy development at its finest. New delegate orientation begins at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7, followed by regional caucus meetings at 8:15 a.m. The delegate general session begins at 9:30 a.m. We look forward to seeing you.

USDA Updates Crop Insurance Provisions

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced several updates to crop insurance. USDA is making permanent a new provision that allows producers to hay, graze or chop cover crops and still receive a full prevented planting payment. To accommodate the different farming practices across the country, RMA is also increasing flexibility related to the prevented planting “1 in 4” requirement, as well as aligning crop insurance definitions with USDA’s National Organic Program.

Haying, Grazing, and Chopping of Cover Crops

In July, RMA announced producers can hay, graze, or chop cover crops for silage, haylage, or bailage at any time and still receive 100 percent of the prevented planting payment. Previously, cover crops could only be hayed, grazed, or chopped after Nov. 1. Otherwise, the prevented planting payment was reduced by 65 percent if producers took those actions on the cover crop.

RMA added this flexibility starting with the 2021 crop year as part of a broader effort to encourage producers to use cover crops. Additionally, RMA provided a premium benefit to producers who planted cover crops through the Pandemic Cover Crop Program to help producers maintain cover crop systems amid the financially challenging pandemic.

“1 in 4” Requirement Flexibilities

For the 2020 crop year, RMA implemented a policy stating that for land to be eligible for prevented planting coverage, the acreage must meet the “1 in 4” requirement, which means the land must be planted, insured, and harvested in at least one of the four most recent crop years. Now, RMA is adding flexibilities to recognize different farming practices and crops grown, as well as the availability of risk management options.

New flexibilities allowed in order to meet the “1 in 4” requirement include:

  • The annual regrowth for an insured perennial crop, such as alfalfa, red clover, or mint, to be considered planted.
  • Allow a crop covered by the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) to meet the insurability requirement.
  • If crop insurance or NAP coverage was not available, allow the producer to prove the acreage was planted and harvested using good farming practices in at least two consecutive years out of the four previous years to meet the insurability requirement.

Aligning Organic Terms

RMA is revising four organic definitions to be consistent with USDA’s National Organic Program. This change builds on other RMA efforts to expand and improve current options for organic producers. In Sept. 2021, RMA announced several updates to Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP), including increasing farm operation growth limits for organic producers to the higher of $500,000 or 35 percent over the five-year average allowable income, and to allowing a producer to report acreage as certified organic, or as acreage in transition to organic, when the producer has requested an organic certification by the acreage reporting date. In addition, RMA announced it will be offering the new Micro Farm policy through WFRP that specifically targets coverage for small, diversified farmers, including organic growers.

Other Changes

RMA made other changes to Common Crop Insurance Policy Basic Provisions, Area Risk Protection Insurance Regulations, Coarse Grains Crop Insurance Provisions, and other insurance provisions:

  • RMA is providing an option for producers to delay measurement of farm-stored production for 180-days through the Special Provisions, similar to flexibilities already available to grain crop producers.
  • RMA added earlage and snaplage as an acceptable method of harvest for coarse grains. During the 2020 Derecho, many producers salvaged their damaged corn crop by harvesting as earlage or snaplage instead of grain or silage.

More Information

Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator. Learn more about crop insurance at rma.usda.gov.

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