A Senate Agriculture Committee member says the Department of Agriculture is “seriously evaluating” a letter sent by members of Congress from the upper Midwest that would support farmers struggling with late planting.

Members of the House and Senate from North Dakota and Minnesota are asking Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to authorize payments for producers who miss prevented planting cutoff dates due to weather concerns in the region.

According to USDA’s most recent crop progress report, corn planting is about 27% off the five-year average pace in North Dakota and 10% behind in Minnesota. Soybean planting efforts are even further behind; Minnesota only has 55% of its crop in the ground compared to the 80% five-year average, and North Dakota producers are at a mere 23% compared to the five-year average of 70%.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., tells Agri-Pulse Newsmakers the group of lawmakers wants to encourage planting acres despite the loss of full crop insurance coverage. They sent a letter to Vilsack May 25.

“Right now, with the problem that we have with inflation across the board, and of course food inflation, we need our farmers putting those crops in the ground,” Hoeven said.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Reps. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn., Angie Craig, D-Minn., and Pete Stauber, R-Minn., also signed the letter in support of the potential funding.

In the upcoming farm bill, Hoeven said he believes lawmakers should evaluate funding given to the Commodity Credit Corporation as well as whether or not reference prices for farm programs provide adequate risk management for producers.

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Also appearing on Newsmakers, Syngenta lobbyist Mary Kay Thatcher said she expects the economy, the control of the House and Senate, and the farm bill’s budget to play large roles in its development.

“We are losing Democratic members in the House, moderate rural Democratic members,” Thatcher said. “That's a problem because we can't pass a farm bill without bipartisanship.”

In addition to the farm bill, American Soybean Association Chief Economist Scott Gerlt spoke on the Newsmakers panel about the positive outlook for soybean production despite high input costs and planting delays.

To hear more about Hoeven’s letter to USDA and the impact current conditions may have on the 2023 farm bill, check out the latest episode of Agri-Pulse Newsmakers.  

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