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IDOA offers pre-enrollment for cover crop sign-up

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is letting farmers pre-enroll for the Fall Covers for Spring Savings program on Dec. 4 for enrollment that begins Dec. 15. Last year, the same number of acres were claimed within 24 hours.

Holly Spangler

December 4, 2023

2 Min Read
A ground level close up of young cover crop seedlings
COVER CROPS: “The Fall Covers for Spring Savings program provides a jump-start to initiate what may be a new practice for some producers,” says Jerry Costello II, Illinois director of agriculture.Holly Spangler

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has good news if you’re planning to sign up for its cover crop insurance discount program this month: You can start early.

Enrollment for the Fall Covers for Spring Savings cover crop incentive program opens at 8 a.m. Dec. 15, but new this year is the opportunity to enter and validate your information prior to that launch. The “pre-enrollment period” begins at 8 a.m. Dec. 4, when you can enter your information into the application and have it validated — meaning everything will be ready to roll Dec. 15. You save and edit the information at any time prior to submission, according to IDOA.

This program offers a $5 rebate on federal crop insurance for acres with cover crops, and historically has offered limited acres that were entirely signed up for within hours, with many farmers waiting at their computer for the sign-up period to open.

In 2024, a total of 140,000 acres are available, which is the same amount offered in 2023. That acreage allotment in 2023 was met in under 24 hours, and a total of over 182,688 acres were requested by the time the application period ended — meaning 42,000 acres didn’t get funding, which is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

In 2021, there were only 100,000 acres available, and they were claimed within 10 hours. The department received applications for 131,000 acres that year, which means 31,000 didn’t get enrolled.

In the falls of 2019 and 2020, the program offered rebates on 50,000 acres. It expanded to 100,000 acres in 2021, and now sits at 140,000 acres in 2022 and 2023.

“Illinois’ participation in the U.S. Gulf Hypoxia Task Force made it possible for the state to enroll an additional 40,000 acres in 2023,” says John Kim, director of Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Those who sign up will get a $5-per-acre rebate when they get their crop insurance invoice next August and September. That could add up to a 25% savings, depending on crop insurance rates. IDOA says the rebate sometimes allows farmers to add wind and hail coverage.

One last reminder: Before you sit down at the computer, IDOA officials say to be sure you have an electronic copy of your current Farm Service Agency Form 578 with verified cover crop acres, and have your federal crop insurance policy number on hand. You’ll need both to enroll. Pre-enrollment and applications are available online.

The program closes Jan. 15.

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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