On August 19, 2020, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced it will make several improvements to prevented planting coverage. https://www.rma.usda.gov/News-Room/Press/Press-Releases/2020-News/USDA-Works-with-Stakeholders-to-Improve-Prevented-Planting-Coverage. RMA states it will implement these changes for most spring crops with prevented planting coverage, starting in the 2021 crop year, and for all crops with prevented planting coverage, starting in the 2022 crop year.
RMA states the changes include:
- Expansion of the “1 in 4” requirement nationwide. Currently, only producers in the Prairie Pothole National Priority Area are subject to the requirement, which requires producers to plant acreage in at least one of the four most recent crop years to be eligible for prevented planting coverage on those acres.
- Several modifications to existing policy and procedure to ensure that producers’ prevented planting payments adequately reflect the crops the producer intended to plant. Specific information on the changes can be found here.
- Allow acreage planted with an uninsured second crop following the failure of a first crop within the same crop year to, nonetheless, be included as prevented planting eligible acreage.
- Provide an exception allowing prevented planting of a different crop than the producer attempted to plant when a producer does not have a history of producing two crops in the same field if the producer can prove intention.
- Allow the use of an intended acreage report for the first two years, instead of only the first year, for producers in a new county, where they have never produced the crop.
ANALYSIS – RMA states that these changes are effective for spring planted crops starting in the 2021 crop year so presumably these changes will be effectuated through the rulemaking process. The description of some of these changes is very vague so it is not entirely clear how these changes will improve the prevented planting coverage or whether they will protect the integrity of the program. Some of these changes seem to depend on the “intention” of the producer, which has previously been almost impossible to establish or verify. In the past that has adversely affected program integrity. However, based on the information provided it is too soon the judge the changes and there would need to be careful analysis of the rule itself.
All statements made are opinions of the author and are not intended to provide legal opinions or legal advice.