Local farmers now have until Jan. 31, 2020, to pay their 2019 crop insurance premium without accruing interest.

U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith of Minnesota, both members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, recently announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture is deferring accrual of interest on 2019 crop year insurance premiums to support farmers affected by recent flooding and extreme weather. For any premium not paid by Jan. 31 or next year, interest will accrue consistent with the terms of the policy.

“Many farmers in Minnesota were unable to get into their fields this fall due to excess rain and snow,” Klobuchar said. “This extension will ensure that those impacted by delayed or destroyed harvest won’t be unnecessarily penalized while they settle their crop insurance claims. As the backbone of our state’s economy, farmers need our support during periods of uncertainty.”

Smith agreed.

“Farmers already face enough uncertainty even before factoring in difficult weather conditions. It’s up to us to do whatever we can to provide them with some certainty,” Smith said. “Extending the deadline for agriculture producers to pay their crop insurance premiums is the right thing to do, and I’m glad to see the USDA take this step to support Minnesota farmers.”

USDA had previously announced a deferral of accrued interest to Nov. 30, providing producers with an additional two months from the traditional Sept. 30 date. So far this year, producers have reported they were prevented from planting on nearly 20 million acres, a modern record. Indemnities from crop insurance have reached almost $6 billion this year, with more than $3.9 billion of that going to producers unable to plant because of flooding or excess moisture.

Earlier this month, Klobuchar and Smith led the Minnesota congressional delegation in urging U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide federal assistance to Minnesota farmers overwhelmed by significant wet weather during this year’s harvest. In a letter to the USDA, members of the Minnesota congressional delegation offered their support for Gov. Tim Walz’s request for a U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretarial Disaster Declaration to assist communities recovering from catastrophic weather conditions this fall.