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Senators introduce cover crop legislation

Senators introduce cover crop legislation

Sens. Stabenow and Thune introduced the Cover Crop Flexibility Act of 2021

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

U.S. Senators from both sides of the aisle have introduced a bill designed to encourage farmers to plant cover crops.

Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) tabled the Cover Crop Flexibility Act of 2021.

Generally, farmers who plant cover crops on prevent plant acres cannot hay or graze that cover crop before Nov. 1. Doing so could affect prevent plant insurance payments.

If passed, the bipartisan legislation would lift the Nov. 1 date.

In addition, it would allow the United States Department of Agriculture to include cover crop seed costs when it calculates prevent plant insurance and direct the ag department to examine the extent that cover crops reduce risks of prevent planting and other crop insurance losses.

These changes would help more farmers plant cover crops without worrying about penalties, Stabenow said.

“Planting cover crops is an important way farmers can improve their land and address the climate crisis, she said in a statement. “When extreme weather causes farmers to miss a planting season, farmers aren’t able to grow beneficial cover crops without facing a crop insurance penalty. This commonsense change permanently fixes that problem and is a win for the environment and for farmers.”

Multiple industry organizations support the bill.

This legislation provides producers with the flexibility they need in the event of severe weather, said Randy Poll, president of the Michigan Corn Growers Association.

“This legislation will give farmers some much-needed flexibility in managing their land to deal with unforeseen weather impacts like what we experienced in 2019,” he said in a press release. “It also allows us to better protect Michigan’s land by strategically using cover crops to improve soil health and fertility, suppress weeds, and reduce soil erosion.

In total nearly 40 groups are in favor of these proposed changes.

They include the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association and the American Seed Trade Association.

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