Fall covers for spring savings! The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) is offering farmers that plant cover crops a $5/acre discount on their crop insurance bill. IDOA’s Cover Crop Premium Discount Program is offered for acres of cover crops installed outside of state and federal program incentives (e.g., EQIP, CSP and state cost share). IDOA is supporting 50,000 acres of cover crops with this years funding.
The Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy recognizes cover crops as one of the most effective in-field management strategies to stem the loss of both nitrate-nitrogen and total phosphorus from corn-soybean fields, yet less than 4% of Illinois’ cropland is planted to cover crops annually.
- Interested participants may sign up acres planted to cover crops in the fall of 2020 and will be planted to an insurable crop the following spring.
- Eligible applicants will receive the $5/acre insurance premium discount on 2021’s crop insurance invoice for every acre of cover crop enrolled and accepted in the program.
COVER CROPS: A FARMERS SAFETY NET
Crop insurance is an integral part of the farm safety net that provides protection for farmers when adverse weather impacts their crop yields. Cover crops can improve the resiliency of Illinois farm operations by preventing erosion and improving the soil’s ability to absorb and hold water for crops. Because more resilient soil results in less yield variation from year to year, another benefit may be fewer insurance claims over time. Introducing cover crops to your rotation takes purposeful management. Many producers interested in beginning with cover crops start with a cereal rye after corn harvest, before soybean planting. The Midwest
Cover Crop Council is a great source for those that are interested in alternative cover crop species; MCCC provides species, rate, date, and termination recommendations, vetted by experts across Illinois. You can find more information on their website by clicking here.
“I first got started with cereal rye cover crops through an EQIP program through the NRCS—and it’s been very successful alongside my bean crops. I was influenced by this program incentives to plant more covers than what I was originally going to this year.” – Montgomery and Bond County Illinois Farmer
WHO BENEFITS FROM THIS PROGRAM?
When cover crops are integrated into a farming operation, they improve soil’s overall function and health, enhancing the resiliency of Illinois cropland and resulting in less yield variation from year to year, which may translate to fewer insurance claims over time. In addition to the farming operation, the community and environment benefits. The below graphic displays an average of nutrient, sediment and GHG reductions from the implementation of 50,000 acres in the 2019 Illinois Fall Covers for Spring Savings Cover Crop Premium Discount Program.
HOW CAN I APPLY?
Farmers will need to certify their fall planted cover crop acres with the FSA office and use the FSA 578 form to apply for the program through the Illinois Department of Agriculture website located here. Farmers submit cover crop reward applications to IDOA beginning December 15, until January 15.
WHO DO I CONTACT?
HOW WILL IDOA VERIFY ELIGIBLE ACRES?
IDOA will use a combination of tools to verify acres in cover crops applied for through this program. Applications will be reviewed for overlap in enrollment of other federal and state programs. IDOA will then employ a variety of tools at their discretion. Applicants must maintain documentation on cover crops that have been seeded (e.g., seed bills) and utilize Midwest Cover Crop Council – Cover Crop Tool recommendations for seeding rates/dates.