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Illinois farmers can enroll newly cover-cropped fields for a $5-per-acre credit on crop insurance, but the program is first come, first served.

Austin Keating, Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer

December 15, 2020

2 Min Read
tractor planting cover crops
GET COVERED: Earn a $5-per-acre credit toward next year’s crop insurance bill by planting cover crops on acres where you’ve never planted them. Austin Keating

Applications opened at midnight on Dec. 15 for the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s second year of the Fall Covers for Spring Savings program. Farmers earn a discount on next year’s crop insurance bill by planting cover crops on land where they haven’t before — but space is limited and filling fast.

Applications are open until Jan. 15, but if last year is any indication, the 50,000 acres that can receive a $5 rebate on crop insurance premiums will fill up fast.

Related: Subsidize your step into cover crops

The state of Illinois spent $300,000 in the 2020 budget and the same amount again in the 2021 budget to apply a $5-per-acre credit to the insurance bills of cover crop farmers. In 2020, 70% of applicants were applying to grow cover crops for the first time in their career.

About 200 farmers signed up 50,000 acres for the program in 2019; 80,000 more acres applied for funding by the Jan. 15 deadline in 2020 but didn’t receive it. Illinois offers the rebate on a first-come, first-served basis. It was spoken for within days of opening for the first round of applications in December 2019.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed budget for 2021 doubled that funding, but the change didn’t make it to the final version of the bill he signed into law.

Eligible applicants receive a $5-per-acre premium discount on the following year’s crop insurance invoice for every acre of cover crop they enroll and verify in the program.

The program is only applicable for those with coverage through the USDA Risk Management Agency crop insurance program. Confirmed applications will be forwarded to USDA-RMA for processing and applying premium discounts to 2021 crop insurance invoices.

Applications are available at this Illinois Department of Agriculture webpage. Applicants will need their current FSA-578 and federal crop insurance policy number.

About the Author(s)

Austin Keating

Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer

Austin Keating is the newest addition to the Farm Progress editorial team working as an associate editor for Prairie Farmer magazine. Austin was born and raised in Mattoon and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in journalism. Following graduation in 2016, he worked as a science writer and videographer for the university’s supercomputing center. In June 2018, Austin obtained a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where he was the campus correspondent for Planet Forward and a Comer scholar.

Austin is passionate about distilling agricultural science as a service for readers and creating engaging content for viewers. During his time at UI, he won two best feature story awards from the student organization JAMS — Journalism Advertising and Media Students — as well as a best news story award.

Austin lives in Charleston. He can sometimes be found at his family’s restaurant the Alamo Steakhouse and Saloon in Mattoon, or on the Embarrass River kayaking. Austin is also a 3D printing and modeling hobbyist.

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