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Published July 14, 2014, 09:39 AM

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Montana hail insurance deadline approaches, Hoeven asks the Senate to eliminate the Waters of the U.S. rule and USDA provides an update on disaster assistance.

By: Agweek Staff and Wire reports, Agweek

Mont. hail insurance deadline approaching

• HELENA, Mont. — With some much-needed rain falling across most of Montana, now is the time to evaluate crop insurance needs. Montana farmers and ranchers can still purchase state hail insurance until Aug. 15 by calling 844-515-1571 or visiting www.agr.mt.gov/agr/Programs/Com modities/HailInsurance to obtain forms. With last year’s record hail insurance claims, the Hail Board purchased reinsurance to ensure that any and all claims made by Montana producers covered by the state hail insurance program will be paid. County department of revenue offices will no longer be processing new policies. Instead, they will be providing information to interested parties on how to begin the process. Forms are also available at Montana State University Extension offices and conservation district offices. At the request of producers and authorized by the State Legislature, the dry land hail insurance rate increased to $75 per acre and $114 per acre for irrigated land. The Hail Board also approved a 5 percent premium increase. Producers should contact the Montana Department of Agriculture to discuss coverage and rates.

Hoeven: Eliminate Waters of the US rule

• WASHINGTON — In a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., called on the Senate to stand up for farmers and ranchers and vote on an amendment he is cosponsoring that prevents the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing their proposed Waters of the U.S. rule. The proposed regulation would significantly expand federal authority to regulate small wetlands, creeks, stock ponds and ditches under the Clean Water Act. Hoeven says the amendment, which is sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and supported by 29 senators, should be brought up for a vote during the current debate on the sportsmen’s bill. “We have the lowest-cost, highest-quality food supply in the world,” Hoeven says. “Now the EPA, by its own volition, is going to go out and make it harder, more expensive and more difficult for our farmers and ranchers to do what they do better than anyone in the world. Farmers and ranchers have to work through uncertain weather and markets to ensure we have food security, and they don’t need the burden of additional regulations and litigation. They certainly don’t need that burden under the auspices that EPA says, oh somehow this is going to help you. Well, that’s not the case.” Recently, Hoeven pressed U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to work with him to eliminate the proposed rule and to address widespread concern among farmers and ranchers about the regulation.

USDA provides update on disaster assistance

• WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack provided a 12-week progress report on U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster assistance programs July 10, announcing USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between October 2011 and passage of the 2014 farm bill. “Farmers and ranchers who waited two and a half years for a farm bill are now getting some relief,” Vilsack says. “We met the very ambitious goal to get these programs up and running in just 60 days.” FSA staff, as well as temporary employees hired to expedite the application process, have processed more than $1.2 billion in payments to qualifying farmers and ranchers. The first payments were sent out within two weeks of enrollment. USDA estimated roughly $2.5 billion would be provided in disaster relief to cover losses from October 2011 through September 2014. If those estimates prove accurate, it would mean nearly half of all disaster payments have already been provided. While disaster relief is a critical lifeline that can prevent farmers and ranchers who do not have access to crop insurance from being wiped out by weather-related losses beyond their control, most producers only receive support equal to 60 percent of their actual losses. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program and the Livestock Indemnity Program provide payments for grazing losses from drought and livestock deaths as a result of adverse weather; the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program provides assistance for livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish losses from disease, weather, wildfires and colony collapse disorder or for losses not covered under other disaster assistance programs; and the Tree Assistance Program provides financial assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes and vines that were lost or damaged by natural disasters. Producers affected by adverse weather should contact their FSA county office to make an appointment and learn if they are eligible for disaster assistance.

Farmers with CSP contracts can re-enroll

• Farmers participating in the Conservation Stewardship Program can renew expiring contracts until Sept. 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service says. CSP offers farmers five-year contracts to secure and enhance conservation on the land they have in active production. To renew a CSP contract, farmers must visit their local county NRCS service center. Farmers opting to renew contracts will be expected to keep existing conservation improvements in place and also add one additional enhancement to their farm. New CSP contracts for 2014 are currently being evaluated by NRCS, with contract offerings for farmers expected in mid- to late-summer. In terms of acres covered, CSP is the largest conservation program in the nation, with nearly 60 million acres enrolled.

Briefly . . .

• Tractor accident: An 86-year-old rural Brainerd, Minn., man died July 8 after apparently being pinned by a tractor. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office reported the man lived in Sylvan Township of Cass County, which was also the site of the accident. The man was pinned between the tractor that was rolling in reverse and a fifth-wheel trailer hitch. Shortly before 6 p.m. the sheriff’s office received a report of the incident. Responders arrived and found the deceased man.

— Agweek Staff and Wire Reports

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