Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced in September that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will offer its cover crop insurance discount program again this year. The program gives farmers and landowners who plant fall cover crops, like rye and oats, the opportunity to apply for a discount of $5 per acre on their spring crop insurance premiums. Sign-up for the program will begin in December.
"Planting cover crops is a great way for farmers to build upon existing conservation efforts in their farming operations," Naig said. "Every field is different, so I encourage farmers and landowners to talk to their agronomist, conservation professional or seed representative to determine which varieties of cover crops may work best for their growing conditions. I hope everyone will consider planting cover crops on at least one field this fall."
Farmers and landowners can start enrolling in the cover crop insurance discount program in December. To qualify, the cover crop acres cannot be enrolled in other state or USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) cost-share programs. More information about the cover crop insurance discount program is available at cleanwateriowa.org.
Cover crops help improve soil health, prevent soil erosion and lock in nutrients, especially during extreme weather events. Cover crops are proven to reduce nitrogen loads by 28% to 31%, and phosphorus loads by 29%, which helps improve water quality. They also offer weed control and livestock grazing benefits for producers.
This is the fifth year the crop insurance discount program is being administered by IDALS and the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA). Interest in the program continues to grow, and new farmers and fields join each year. To date, about 1,700 farmers have enrolled nearly 700,000 acres of cover crops in the program. Other states have also started offering similar programs modeled after the one in Iowa, including Illinois and Indiana.
Some insurance policies may be excluded, like Whole-Farm Revenue Protection, or those covered through written agreements. Participants must follow all existing farming practices required by their policy, and work with their insurance agencies to maintain eligibility.
Farmers should visit their local USDA service center to learn about other cost-share funding available to support the implementation of conservation practices.