Senator Stabenow introduces bill to help Michigan farmers during bad weather seasons

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) and Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that farmers can plant beneficial cover crops without facing crop insurance penalties when bad weather prevents them from planting their crops for the season.

The Cover Crop Flexibility Act of 2021 was inspired by Senator Stabenow and Senator Gary Peters’ successful effort in 2019 to give flexibility to Michigan farmers after record-setting flooding and wet weather delayed planting.

Currently, crop insurance penalizes farmers for planting cover crops that can be used for livestock grazing or animal feed when farmers can’t plant their crops for the season because of bad weather.

The bill will permanently lift this restrictive rule and provide certainty if farmers face poor planting conditions again this spring.

“Historic rainfall in 2019 caused many farmers to miss the planting season,” said Senator Stabenow.

“When extreme weather gets in the way of planting, farmers aren’t able to grow beneficial cover crops without facing a crop insurance penalty.”

Planting cover crops helps farmers get value from their land through grazing and harvesting. It also improves soil productivity and prevents weeds from overgrowing in fields.

The Cover Crop Flexibility Act of 2021 is supported by 37 farm and conservation organizations, including the Michigan Agri-Business Association, Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Michigan Corn Growers Association, Michigan Soybean Association, and The Nature Conservancy in Michigan.

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