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Published May 27, 2014, 09:51 AM

RMA denies planting deadline requests

FARGO, N.D. — With a wet, late planting season, farmers are approaching planting deadlines for full crop insurance compensation on various crops.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — With a wet, late planting season, farmers are approaching planting deadlines for full crop insurance compensation on various crops. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider delaying the final crop insurance planting deadline for corn this year and other crops in the coming years.

Not surprisingly, the request for this year was denied, but the legislators say consideration for future years is possible and necessary.

As of May 19, the National Agricultural Statistics Service pegged corn planting progress at a mere 17 percent in North Dakota and 53 percent in Minnesota, and a more normal 73 percent in South Dakota.

“My growers would rather produce a crop than collect a prevented-planting claim,” Peterson says. “Moving the dates back would give them that opportunity, while lowering indemnities paid out due to prevented planting.”

Doug Hagel, regional director for the federal Risk Management Agency, based in Billings, Mont., says the contracts with reinsurers are submitted in the summer of the previous year and finalized on Nov. 30 each year.

“After that period, you can’t change anything without having some impact with the producers — you don’t want to do that — or with the insurance companies who are carrying the risk,” he says.

Hagel acknowledges it is more plausible to talk about changing policies for future years, which is based on research and statistics from universities and the Agricultural Research Service, among others. He acknowledges farmers can still plant during their late planting period, but face a reduced coverage, which offsets the risk.

He says farmers also typically plant shorter-season varieties during late planting, which tends to reduce yields.

“But the new varieties are changing, getting better — getting out of the ground quicker and moving faster” in development, Hagel says.

Sugar beet cooperatives in the region have been talking with RMA about changing planting deadlines for future years from the current May 31 to June 10, he says.

Planting dates for other crops also are approaching or have passed:

• Corn: Final planting dates for full coverage started May 20 in Montana, and May 25 for nonirrigated corn in northern North Dakota and South Dakota. Minnesota final dates for grain corn start May 25 in the north and go to May 31 in the central portion of the state and south into Iowa.

• Canola: June 5 for northern and northeast North Dakota (Grand Forks to Burke counties), May 25 for the next tier of counties (Traill to Williams). The dates were May 20 for southeast North Dakota and May 15 for central North Dakota and Montana. Deadline is June 5 for all covered Minnesota counties.

• Spring wheat: Deadline is June 5 in northern North Dakota and some extreme northeast Montana and northwest Minnesota counties, and May 31 for the southern two-thirds of North Dakota and central Minnesota (Wilkin to Norman counties and east to Pine).

• Sunflowers: Final planting dates for full coverage start at June 5 for the northern two tiers of counties in North Dakota, June 10 for Montana and the southern two-thirds of North Dakota and all of Minnesota. The deadline is June 15 for northern and western South Dakota, and June 20 for southern South Dakota.

• Soybeans: Deadline for full coverage is June 10 in much of eastern and the central Dakotas and all of Minnesota, shifting to June 15 in Iowa.

• Potatoes: June 10 for the eastern two-thirds of North Dakota and western Montana, and May 31 for northeast and central South Dakota counties. The deadline is June 10 in the Red River Valley and much of northwest Minnesota, and May 31 for Becker County and other southern areas.

• Dry beans: Deadline is June 10 for covered counties in North Dakota and South Dakota and Minnesota and June 5 in Montana.

Decrease after deadline

Scott Stofferahn, executive vice president for Golden Growers Cooperative based in Fargo, N.D., a part-owner of the ProGold LLC corn fructose plant in Wahpeton, N.D., says it is better for processors, ethanol makers and livestock producers to have farmers plant corn and other crops, rather than to have millions of acres go unplanted. Farmers already can plant after the corn crop insurance deadline on May 25, for example, but their yield guarantee declines by 1 percent for every day’s delay.

For example, if the guarantee goes down by 5 percent because of a five-day delay, that means a loss of RMA protection on five bushels. At $4 a bushel, that amounts to $20 per acre.

Stofferahn, who had been Farm Service Agency executive director during the presidency of Bill Clinton, says the last time federal officials changed the planting date, the insurance companies resisted because of its impact on underlying risk in the reinsurance agreements. Hagel remembers that the reinsurance companies had to be compensated for the increased risk.

North Dakota is furthest behind in planting in the region. As of May 19, NASS reports progress at:

• North Dakota: Corn, 17 percent planted, compared with a 54 percent five-year average; soybeans, 5 percent planted, 25 percent average; sunflowers, 1 percent planted, 10 percent average; canola, 14 percent planted, 44 percent average; durum, 14 percent planted, 41 percent average; spring wheat, 25 percent planted, 55 percent average; barley, 22 percent planted, 49 percent average; oats, 29 percent planted, 56 percent average; flax, 4 percent planted, 27 percent average; dry beans, 2 percent planted, 14 percent average; potatoes, 6 percent planted, 41 percent average; sugar beets, 29 percent planted, 75 percent average.

Winter wheat condition is rated 41 percent good to excellent. Average temperatures are 6 to 15 degrees below normal, but farmers got an average of 4.2 days of fieldwork in before the May 18 rain. Topsoil moisture is 68 percent adequate and 31 percent surplus.

• South Dakota: Corn, 73 percent planted, 69 percent five-year average; soybeans, 32 percent planted, 26 percent average; spring wheat, 83 percent planted, 93 percent average; barley, 55 percent planted, 82 percent average; oats, 81 percent planted, 90 percent average. Crop conditions in the good to excellent categories: winter wheat, 59 percent; oats, 76 percent.

• Minnesota: Corn, 53 percent planted and an 81 percent five-year average; soybeans, 16 percent planted, 45 percent average; spring wheat, 20 percent planted, 72 percent average; oats, 61 percent planted, 84 percent average; sugar beets, 40 percent planted, 79 percent average; dry edible beans, 1 percent planted, 21 percent average; potatoes, 33 percent planted, 74 percent average.

• Montana: Corn, 52 percent planted, below the 64 percent five-year average; canola, 70 percent planted, 70 percent average; spring wheat, 74 percent planted, 73 percent average; barley, 88 percent planted, 78 percent average; durum, 49 percent planted, percent average; sugar beets, 98 percent planted, 80 percent average; lentils, 73 percent planted, 81 percent average; dry peas, 83 percent planted, 83 percent average.

Click here for a map of corn planting deadlines.

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