The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is encouraging farmers to take advantage of a program that provides a $5-per-acre reduction on crop insurance premiums for planting cover crops.
Farmers who plant cover crops this fall may be eligible for the reduction on their spring 2020 cash crop insurance premiums. To qualify, the cover crop acres cannot be enrolled in other state or federal cover crop cost share programs. Farmers who were unable to plant a cash crop this year and used a cover crop to protect fields in 2019 are still eligible for the discounted insurance premiums.
“All Iowans have a role to play in improving water quality in our state and downstream,” says Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig. “Cover crops are proven to reduce nutrient loads and improve soil health. As part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, our goal is to have at least 14 million acres of cover crops planted in the state of Iowa. This program represents just one of many funding sources available to help farmers add conservation practices to their fields.”
Planting rye or oat cover crops improves soil health and prevents erosion, especially during high-intensity rainfalls. Cover crops also reduce nitrogen loads by 28% to 31% and phosphorus loads by 29%, which helps improve water quality, according to the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy Report, compiled by Iowa State University.
This is a joint, three-year demonstration project administered by IDALS and the USDA Risk Management Agency. It is intended to increase the use of cover crops in Iowa. Farmers can sign up for the program at apply.cleanwateriowa.org. The sign-up runs through Jan. 15.
Some crop 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 agency to maintain eligibility. Farmers are encouraged to visit their local USDA service center offices to learn more about other cost share funding available to support the implementation of conservation practices.
Cover crop incentives grow
This year, Unilever and PepsiCo are offering Iowa farmers cash incentives for crops in programs managed by Practical Farmers of Iowa.
Through its Sustainable Soy program for Hellman’s mayonnaise, Unilever is offering Iowa soybean growers who are new to cover crops an incentive of $40 per acre on 40 acres. This higher payment is to get farmers to try cover crops and see how they work on their own fields. The company also offers farmers experienced with planting cover crops a $10-per-acre incentive on 160 acres, or on 10% of acres farmed, whichever is larger.
Soybeans grown in the Sustainable Soy program are processed at ADM’s crushing plant in Des Moines, Iowa, but farmers are eligible if they can deliver their soybeans to several elevators, including all locations of Heartland, Key, Landus, Mid-Iowa and some other co-ops.
In a separate program, PepsiCo is offering similar cover crop incentives to farmers who deliver corn directly to Cargill’s corn processing plant in Eddyville, Iowa. The corn is then processed into high-fructose corn syrup. Also, a leading cover crop seed supplier, Iowa Cover Crop and its dealer network, offers discounts on seed or application for farmers who sign up by July 1 and are new customers.
A key to these two cover crop incentive programs is they can be stacked on other incentives offered through state and federal programs. Those include IDALS’ program offering farmers discounts on crop insurance premiums for planting cover crops and USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program. “When you can stack the programs, it adds up for stronger incentives for farmers to plant cover crops and to use other conservation practices,” says Sarah Carlson, strategic initiatives director for PFI.
For more information, visit practicalfarmers.org.
Sustainable cover crops initiative
Peoples Co. and Stine Seed Co. are partnering to offer landowners a paid-in-full, managed cover crops program. It is available for new land management clients of Peoples, a real estate sales and farm management firm. To qualify for the program, landowners must agree to have their land professionally managed by Peoples during a three-year term and commit to planting Stine seed.
The cost of cover crop application is covered up to $30 per acre, with a minimum of 120 acres and a maximum of 500 acres planted per client. Cover crop seed and application decisions are made by land management professionals. Termination of the cover crops is not a covered expense.
This program began during the 2019 growing season and is available to landowners in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and Missouri. A total of 10,000 acres will be accepted into this program. Peoples Co. land managers will inspect each property annually to ensure cover crops were indeed used and Stine seed was planted. Peoples will document these practices in the annual land management report for each farm.
The client is not eligible for the Sustainability Cover Crop Initiative if participating in government cover crop financial assistance programs. Accepting government cover crop cost-share assistance on acres enrolled in the Peoples/Stine program is a violation of the program’s rules. For more information about this program, send email to LandManagement@PeoplesCompany.com or call 855-800-5263.