In one of our previous articles, we discussed why the majority of acres would still get planted in the Midwest this year, despite the unprecedented rainfall that has plagued #plant19. However, in areas where there was just no opportunity to get every acre planted, landowners need to understand what “prevent plant” is and what options they have as a landowner when their farmer files a prevent claim on their leased farmland.
1. Prevent plant provides coverage when fields just can’t get planted.
Prevented planting coverage is often part of a farmer’s crop insurance policy. To be eligible for a prevent plant claim, the farmer must be unable to plant the insured crop by the final planting date or during the late planting period. These dates vary by state and crop. In the Midwest, the final planting date for corn passed weeks ago; all but the latest soybean final planting dates have passed as well. This means we are firmly in the window in which farmers who haven’t been able to plant are considering a prevent plant claim. Farmers can still choose to plant these crops after the final planting date. This is called the “late planting period” and, depending on the state, is 20 to 25 days after the final planting date. If a farmer chooses to plant during this period, their insurance coverage is reduced by 1% per day. In the Midwest, even the late planting period is over or nearly over for every state, but there’s still a little time for soybeans. This article from AgWeb gives a good overview of some of the options your farmer may have been considering as it relates to prevent plant.
2. Prevent plant should protect your cash rent.
There are financial consequences to consider when your farmer makes a prevent plant claim. Most likely, your farmer has already sunk the cost of fertilizer into the farm, but the other inputs (such as seed) they would have already purchased are refundable and should not be an issue. The original purpose of prevent plant programs was to cover the input cost and land cost on acres that are impossible to get planted. Cash rent is considered a land cost—so there should be no threat to your cash rent payment as a landowner.
3. Prevented planting doesn’t mean no planting.
If your farmer has informed you that they are claiming prevent plant on your farm, it’s time to make a plan. That plan should encompass what will be done to preserve the soil integrity over the course of the growing season. Leaving a field completely barren is never a good idea. Planting a cover crop is an effective way to prevent erosion, maintain soil health, control weeds and manage water.
There are a variety of small grains and legumes that are great options for cover crops. Additionally, farmers can hay, graze or cut cover crops for silage, so if they have livestock, they may benefit from planting a feed grain for this purpose. Typically, farmers cannot use cover crops for feed before November 1, but the USDA recently announced that the date has been moved up two months, to September 1, for 2019 only. The idea is to encourage more farmers to plant cover crops for the best possible soil conservation; at the same time, farmers in many areas are in need of livestock feed, since wet conditions have also compromised the quality and quantity of feed available.
Establishing a healthy cover crop is the best option to protect the soil without a crop for the year. There is a cost associated with planting a cover crop, but the weed control and soil conservation that is provided is definitely necessary.
4. Take the opportunity to make farm improvements.
A prevent plant year is a great time to complete any improvement projects you have been thinking about. Grain bins can go up easily without concern of destroying growing corn or soybeans. Drainage tile can be plowed in while the wet spots on the farm are fresh in everyone’s mind. Many tile contractors will actually charge less to install till during the growing season because the weather is nicer, and they are typically not as busy as they are in the spring or fall. Talk to your farmer about anything that might need to be done on the farm, because this might be the perfect time to get those things done.
While it can be difficult for farmers to adjust their plans and decide not to plant, sometimes it really is the best option. Prevent plant coverage exists for years like this and can help both you and your farmer keep the farm in good condition, even when the weather hasn’t been cooperating.