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Agriculture

New Program Offers Crop Insurance Discount For Cover Crop Use

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Amy Mayer/IPR file photo
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Cover crops keep soil and nutrients from washing away and suppress weeds for the cash crops that follow.

A new partnership between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, which manages the federal crop insurance program, aims to keep more of Iowa’s farmland green in the off-season.

The cover crop premium discount will give farmers five dollars per acre off on their crop insurance premium for acres they plant with cover crops.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Sarah Carlson says in a national survey farmers indicated they wanted this type of program.

“IDALS knew that data and thought, this is a good way to pilot how farmers would respond to a discount on crop insurance,” Carlson says, “if they were incentivized to use cover crops.”

Cover crops have both agronomic and conservation benefits, Carlson says, and the new program may appeal to large-scale corn and soybean farmers who’ve been on the fence about planting them. That’s because it will be easier to access, and useful across more acres, than some existing incentives.

“I definitely see farmers of larger corn-soybean scales thinking scale-wise with cover-crops as well and wanting to do thousands of acres,” Carlson says. “And so participating in a cost share program that only allows 160 acres…sometimes the paperwork hassle isn’t worth it for the size that the farmers want to put out.”

Over the three-year pilot program, Carlson says there is no limit to the number of acres farmers can enroll. She says the premium discount has been months in the making and is unique to Iowa, but Illinois is exploring something similar.