Replant or Crop Loss Claim? Casualties of Iowa’s Wet Spring

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by
Farmer Standing in Flooded Field

It seems in one way or another we can call every year “challenging” for Iowa growers, but the spring of 2024 has presented specific moisture and severe weather challenges for planting and protecting young crops.

Back in March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Drought Monitor classified most of the state in stages of moderate to severe drought, with several northeastern counties listed as “extreme.” Compare this to a year earlier, when there was adequate subsoil and topsoil moisture prior to planting.

Just recently, the Monitor showed the northeastern quarter of Iowa improved over March, to somewhere between abnormally dry and in moderate drought. This followed weeks of rain that helped ease the drought, but also unfortunately slowed corn and soybean planting compared to farmers’ normal pace—and some of which came with the added headache of severe-weather crop losses to hail, tornadoes, or straight-line winds.

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Crop Progress report, as of May 28 planted Iowa corn and soybean acres were each running only 4% behind the five-year average. Actual acres planted north of Interstate 80 are probably further behind than this figure reflects, since progress in southern Iowa seems to be on-pace with previous years.

Under Risk Management Agency (RMA) crop insurance requirements, the final planting date for full coverage of corn is upon us—May 31—and the soybean date is just a couple weeks away, on June 15. There is a late planting deadline for each crop, June 25 and July 10 respectively, but these are accompanied by a small percentage loss of insurance coverage for each day delayed.

Growers unable to plant in time for any of these deadlines because of rain- or storm-related delays will need to consult their insurance agent about the viability of filing a prevent-plant claim.

Replanting Deliberations

Farmers who did manage to plant in time, only to watch all or part of their young crop destroyed by too much rain or storm activity, also must decide whether to replant or submit a claim for damage at the end of the season.

Farmer Completing Crop Loss Claim

The RMA has set practical-to-replant dates for corn at June 10 and soybeans, June 25, 10 days after the final planting date for each. To be eligible for a replant claim, you must have experienced crop losses on at least 20 acres (they do not need to be contiguous) of your planted acres in a county (in case you plant in more than one). If you planted fewer than 100 acres in a county, the threshold is loss of at least 20% of those acres. If you do qualify, your crop policy may pay you up to $40 per acre to replant—this may not replace the seed cost, but it does help with labor and fuel.

As with late-planting and prevent-planting decisions, you should reach out to your agent soon with questions about policy provisions and deadlines. We know you have to consider various factors when deciding whether to replant, in addition to the size of your loss. Some include: Did you lose a large enough portion of a field to make the recovered yield worthwhile? If it is a portion of field and not a full field, can you easily get to the area of loss without damaging emergent crops with your machinery?

ABLS Can Lend Perspective

While you may talk with neighbors who also experienced crop losses to get their perspective, ultimately you need to make the decision that works best for your own budget, time, farm goals, and insurance policy. Ag & Business Legal Strategies isn’t just legal advice; we also employ a banking and financial services expert who can help you determine what strategy is best for your bottom line.

First, talk with your insurance agent to determine what options are available to you with respect to replanting or damage claim, or prevent-plant if that is one of the choices you’re facing—then reach out to us for assistance in reviewing your options.

At Ag & Business Legal Strategies, we want our clients to be honest with themselves and have a solid business plan. Our attorneys and financial strategist will help you create and execute that business plan, and, if necessary, assist you with the legal, tax, and practical aspects of debt restructuring or bankruptcy.

Don’t wait for the problems to become insurmountable. Connect with someone you can trust today, not tomorrow.

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