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Cover crops get premium treatment by USDA

Farmers are eligible for a “premium benefit” of up to $5 an acre on crop insurance coverage if they planted cover crops this year, said USDA’s Risk Management Agency on Tuesday. The so-called Pandemic Cover Crop Program is part of the administration’s $6 billion Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative.

The cover crop benefit will help farmers maintain cover crop systems despite the financial pressures of the pandemic, said the USDA. The premium support is $5 an acre, but no more than the premium owed by a producer. Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa already have programs that provide a premium benefit for cover crops. In those three Midwestern states, farmers will receive an additional benefit.

The USDA also said it would not update its conservation practice standard for cover crops. The Natural Resources Conservation Service originally proposed a restriction on mechanical harvesting of the crops. After reviewing comment on the idea, “NRCS recognizes this could present challenges for producers who use the important conservation practice,” said the USDA.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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