Luján, Marshall Introduce Legislation to Strengthen Drought Protections for Farmers
Nambé, N.M. – U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) introduced the Protecting Farmers from Drought Act – bipartisan legislation that extends existing federal protections for farmers in communities experiencing extreme drought. This extension of coverage will allow producers an additional year for water conditions to improve without losing crop insurance coverage while maintaining the integrity of the crop insurance program.
Prevent planting coverage pays when a producer is unable to plant an insured crop due to an insured cause of loss. Originally created as a way to ensure crops were not planted in wetlands known as the prairie pothole region, the “1 in 4” rule was expanded nationwide in 2019. This expansion adversely impacted farmers across the West who struggled under intense drought conditions and risked losing access to vital risk management tools.
After Senator Luján raised his concern with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and other administration officials during several Agriculture Committee hearings, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) provided a temporary waiver for western states from the “1 in 4” rule in the Fall of 2022. The Protecting Farmers from Drought Act creates a “1 in 5” rule for Prevented Planting Insurance (PP), providing a permanent solution that extends federal protections for farmers experiencing extreme drought.
“Our farmers, ranchers, and producers are the backbone of New Mexico’s agricultural industry, providing responsible stewardship over our lands in the face of extreme drought. While federal drought protections exist, a recent rule change is causing New Mexico farmers to lose prevented planting coverage as droughts devastate the Southwest,” said Senator Luján, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “The Protecting Farmers from Drought Act is a bipartisan solution that extends the “1 in 4” rule – ensuring farmers can access prevented planting coverage. This extension will allow farmers more time for water conditions to improve without losing their insurance, protecting their livelihoods and mitigating risks due to extreme drought.”
“Much of the west is still on the heels of a massive multi-year drought, 70% of Kansas still remains in drought conditions, half of Kansas is still in a severe drought or greater. Prevent Plant is a useful tool for my farmers and ranchers in Kansas but some may be barred from using it because of the length of the drought. While the USDA has granted a waiver, the process for granting that waiver should be more predictable and in statute. Happy to partner with Senator Luján and ensure farmers can continue to be protected in extended periods of drought,” said Senator Marshall.