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Prevent Plant Acreage May Contribute to Risk of Livestock Feed Shortage

The extraordinary weather problems experienced by most of the Central United States during this growing season were validated in a recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicating that producers were not able to plant crops on more than 19.4 million acres in 2019. This represents the most prevented plant acres since this dataset was first released by the Farm Service Agency in 2007 and almost 17.5 million acres more than was reported at this time in 2018. Furthermore, the wetter Spring weather pattern has made the risk of a shortage of livestock feed for the coming year very real for many of our producers with dairy and beef cattle.

As a result, the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) has adjusted the 2019 crop-year prevented planting rules in an effort to give all livestock producers options to deal with the extraordinary conditions. Legislation was introduced at the Federal level in early June that would give farmers and ranchers flexibility to use cover crops for feed, in case of a feed shortage due to excessive moisture, flood, or drought. The final ruling was then delivered on June 20th permitting producers who planted cover crops on prevented plant acres to hay or graze those fields starting September 1, 2019 as opposed to the original November 1 date. In addition to moving up the date, silage, haylage and baleage will be treated the same as haying and grazing. Thus, producers will be able to hay, graze or cut cover crops for silage, haylage or baleage on prevented plant acres on or after September.

Traditional cover crops like cereal rye, annual ryegrass, oats, peas, turnips, etc. have been used by livestock producers with good success at producing forages. However, producers looking to maximize tonnage may have considered planting corn as a cover crop and then harvesting for silage to gain more tonnage.

When one considers not only the quantity of forage and feed available this coming winter, but also its quantity, it may be prudent to give consideration to those proven technologies that can benefit feed efficiency. Research in multiple species has demonstrated that Micro-Aid® consistently improves feed efficiency and other profit drivers in a significant number of experiments. Your local feed company and DPI GLOBAL can help you analyze these opportunities, and now is the perfect time!

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