Title 7

SECTION 1437.401

1437.401 Forage.

§ 1437.401 Forage.

(a) Forage eligible for benefits under this part is limited to mature vegetation, as determined by FSA, produced in a commercial operation. Benefits are not available for first-year seeding of alfalfa and similar vegetation when production is not produced in the seeding year, as determined by FSA. The commercial operation must use acceptable farming, pasture, and range management practices for the location necessary to sustain sufficient quality and quantity of the vegetation so as to be suitable for grazing livestock or mechanical harvest as hay or seed. Forage to be mechanically harvested will be treated under the rules for low-yield crops as calculated under § 1437.103, except claims on forage for grazing benefits will be determined according to paragraph (f) of this section. The provisions in this subpart apply to all claims including forage for mechanical harvest.

(b) Producers of forage must, in addition to the records required in § 1437.8, specify the intended method of harvest of all acreage intended as forage for livestock consumption as either mechanically or grazed.

(c) Producers must request an appraisal from the administrative county office for the unit prior to the onset of grazing of any intended mechanically harvested forage acreage that will be both mechanically harvested and grazed.

(d) Forage acreage reported to FSA as intended to be mechanically harvested, but which is instead subsequently grazed, will be considered for crop definition purposes as mechanically harvested. Expected production of the specific acreage for which catastrophic coverage was obtained will be calculated on the basis of carrying capacity. The loss of such grazed forage will be determined according to paragraph (f) of this section. For acreage intended to be mechanically harvested which is instead subsequently grazed, the loss of intended mechanically harvested forage may alternatively be determined based on a review of acceptable production evidence or appraisal of the specific crop acreage. As part of the payment computation for this loss, intended mechanically harvested forage crop acreage that is not mechanically harvested but instead grazed will be deemed to be un-harvested for the purposes of determining a payment factor.

(e) Small grain forage is the specific acreage of wheat, barley, oats, triticale, or rye intended for use as forage. Small grain forage is a separate crop and distinct from any other forage commodities and other intended uses of the small grain commodity. In addition to the records required in § 1437.8, producers must specify whether the intended forage crop is intended for fall and winter, spring, or full season forage. In addition to other eligibility requirements, FSA will consider other factors, such as water sources and available fencing, and adequate fertilization to determine small grain forage eligibility, yields, and production.

(f) FSA will establish forage losses of acreage intended to be grazed including, in some cases, acreage intended to be mechanically harvested but instead subsequently grazed for producers with catastrophic coverage, on the basis of:

(1) The percentage of loss of similar mechanically-harvested forage acreage on the farm, or on similar farms in the area when approved yields have been calculated to determine loss; or

(2) Where there is no similar mechanically-harvested forage acreage on the farm or similar farms in the area, the collective percentage of loss as determined by FSA for the geographical region after consideration of at least two independent assessments of grazed forage acreage conditions, or by alternative methods as determined by the Deputy Administrator.

(i) The assessments must be completed by forage or range specialists in Federal, State, and local government agencies, educational institutions, and private companies not having a financial interest in the outcome of the assessment. Collective percentage of loss determined by FSA for the geographical region may be based on any or all the following methods as may be available and as determined appropriate by the Deputy Administrator:

(A) Independent assessments of grazed forage acreage conditions;

(B) The U.S. Drought Monitor;

(C) Information obtained from loss adjusters with sufficient forage knowledge to provide grazing loss assessments;

(D) Data obtained from approved areas where clippings are obtained on a regular basis to compare with expected levels of production in a geographical region; or

(E) Information from Natural Resources Conservation Service technical service providers having a specialized knowledge.

(ii) Neither the assessments themselves, nor collective loss percentages established in accordance with this section are subject to appeal. FSA's determinations of geographical area for assessments and collective grazing loss are generally applicable to all similarly situated participants farming in such defined geographical region.

(g) For those NAP covered participants who seek to have a NAP payment determined based on paragraph (f)(2) of this section, a notice of loss under § 1437.11 will not be required; only an application for payment must be filed. Unless otherwise expressed by the NAP covered participant, FSA will presume the participant to want assistance for grazed forage determined according to paragraph (f)(2) of this section.

[79 FR 74582, Dec. 15, 2014, as amended at 85 FR 12221, Mar. 2, 2020]