FEEDD Act reintroduced
Recently, U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN), Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) reintroduced a new bipartisan, bicameral bill called the Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters (FEEDD) Act.
Originally introduced by Johnson in the 116th Congress, the FEEDD Act would allow producers to graze, hay or chop cover crops before Nov. 1 in the event of a feed shortage caused by excessive moisture, flood or drought.
Additionally, through this clear and concise emergency waiver of authority from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), producers wouldn’t have to take further discounts on their crop insurance under the proposed act.
Background and proposed legislation
According to Johnson, under the current Federal Crop Insurance Program, producers who are unable to plant a crop due to adverse weather conditions are currently eligible to receive a small indemnity. However, they are also prohibited from growing a cash commodity due to the missed window in the growing season.
The bill proposed by Johnson, Craig, Hoeven and Baldwin would help solve this problem by providing producers with the emergency flexibility they need to help alleviate livestock feed shortages caused by extreme weather events.
Additionally, the FEEDD Act would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to establish regional harvest dates for each crop year. Under current legislation, this date – Nov. 1 – is set on a nationwide basis creating many disadvantages for producers in the upper Midwest.
“A one-sized-fits-all approach doesn’t always work, and the cover crop harvest date is a good example where this approach falls short,” says Johnson. “I’m grateful USDA provided an administrative fix to the prevent plant harvest date deadline in 2019 after unprecedented flooding in states like South Dakota, but this date flexibility needs to be permanent and regionally tailored. The government can’t control the weather, but we can enhance predictability for producers when disasters hit.”
Reintroduction of the FEEDD Act has been met with resounding support across the nation from agencies and organizations including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Association of Conservation Districts, American Soybean Association, U.S. Durum Growers Association, American Sheep Industry Association, Edge Dairy Cooperative, Midwest Dairy Coalition, Farm Credit Council, American Bankers Association, Independent Community Bankers of America, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Crop Insurance Reimbursement Bureau, Ag Retailers Association, the Nature Conservancy, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative.
“Cover crops are an important tool enabling farmers to better maintain their land and provide an important source of feed for livestock,” states Hoeven. “It makes sense to provide adequate flexibility in USDA’s rules for cover crops to address disasters, differences in regional climates and local feed shortages. This is exactly what our bill will provide, all while preserving crop insurance program integrity and preventing penalties for farmers.”
“When farmers lose a crop to flooding, drought or other extreme weathers events, they are left with tough choices about how to make up for crop losses and protect their soil from erosion,” adds Baldwin. “This bipartisan legislation will give farmers more certainty about their feed options in disaster years. By reducing uncertainty for farmers, we’re working to ease one of the headaches they face when deciding about putting in cover crops, which will benefit soil health on the farm and water quality in our communities.”
Craig comments, “Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, Congress has a responsibility to provide farmers and ranchers the flexibility they need to do their jobs successfully. The FEEDD Act will help to support ag producers at no cost to the taxpayer, while incentivizing the planting of cover crops to protect the health and quality of farmers’ soil.”
Hannah Bugas is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.