Flooded fields

Flooded fields inhabited by winter annual weeds are a common sight in southern Illinois.

The Trump administration is keeping the door open for farmers who were prevented from planting crops this season to still receive some aid payments after weeks of rains across the Midwest stalled sowing.

The government last month announced a $16 billion aid package to help farmers navigate retaliatory tariffs, while another $3 billion is earmarked for disaster relief after the farm economy was battered by a relentless string of snow, rainstorms and flooding.

While the Department of Agriculture isn’t authorized to make market facilitation payments from the tariff aid package for acreage that isn’t planted, the agency said June 10 that it’s looking into options to make some funds available to those growers claiming what’s known as prevented plant insurance and who sow an eligible cover crop.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue expects to give information on aid payment rates and details of disaster relief legislation in the coming weeks. In a statement, he urged farmers to “plant for the market and plant what works best on their farm, regardless of what type of assistance programs USDA is able to provide.”

When unveiling a second round of trade-war aid last month, the USDA specified that farmers would have to plant to qualify for payments, although questions remained on whether those prevented from planting could apply.