USDA won’t extend crop insurance deadline
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it can’t extend today’s crop insurance planting deadline for corn growers despite wet spring delays in North Dakota crop planting.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., requested the extension earlier this week and asked the USDA to consider moving back spring planting dates in upcoming years.
The USDA’s Risk Management Agency says it’s prohibited by federal regulations from changing the deadline set for most North Dakota counties.
“We knew that it was a long shot,” Heitkamp said Friday. However, it was important that the USDA be aware of what’s happening in North Dakota, she said.
“It’s really been tough on North Dakota farmers,” she said. “We’re very concerned about what we can do to help farmers weather this wet cycle into the future.”
Wet conditions affected spring planting in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013, according to statistics provided by Heitkamp.
Farmers in 49 of the state’s 53 counties will see reduced crop insurance coverage on corn they plant after today.
Farmers lose a percentage of their crop insurance coverage for each day they cannot plant beyond the insurance planting deadline, said Tom Lilja, executive director of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.
“If they end up planting corn five days later, they have 95 percent coverage on their policy,” he said said.
There’s a chance that some farmers won’t be able to plant a crop this spring, said Lilja, adding that some Fargo are farmers have been able to get into their fields in the past couple of days.
Some are switching to earlier maturing corn to try to ensure a harvest, he said.
“If we get heavy rain this weekend, odds are a number of acres will be switching to soybeans.”