McCOOK COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) – From a wet, muddy calving season to soggy fields, this spring has been anything but easy for farmers and ranchers. Now a new bill could hopefully relieve some of their stress.
U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson and Angie Craig introduced the bipartisan FEEDD Act, which stands for Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters Act.
Scott Stahl farms near Emery in McCook County. Between planting and taking care of cattle, he has his work cut out for him, especially with a wet spring.
“Farmers across the state of South Dakota and really nationwide have experienced a spring in which excess moisture has been a problem,” vice-president of SD Corn Growers Association Scott Stahl said.
Now a newly introduced bill could help alleviate feed shortages.
“If we’re not growing corn, what are we going to put in the cattle’s bellies. That’s going to be a real problem and producers are not looking for another government program. They cannot feed their cattle dollar bills; what they want is the flexibility to help themselves,” U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson said.
The bill would create an emergency waiver for the USDA to allow farmers to graze or harvest a cover crop before November 1.
“Right now there are regulations around crop insurance that say producers cannot put their cattle out into fields to be able to eat that forage until November 1. That is far too late. There is not available feed that we need for these cattle,” Johnson said.
“Moving it up 60 days would allow for the nutrition to be in the plant when it’s harvested. The November 1 date is kind of set purposely so that there is little to no nutritional value in the cover crop,” Stahl said.
That is something farmers could benefit from in the case of unfavorable conditions.
“It would help to provide options when it comes to feeding cattle. The cattle industry is very important to South Dakota as well as the entire ag industry is the number one industry in South Dakota, so it’s nice to see producers and people in the industry have more options and being able to keep their herd going,” Stahl said. “It’s nice to see government have some flexibility when it comes to something like a disaster we’ve been fighting this spring.”
The waiver would mean producers wouldn’t have to take more of a discount on their crop insurance.