The Risk Management Assurance Agency, part of USDA, fielded enough questions from farmers about the influence of pasturing or harvesting cover crops on 2013 crop insurance that it issued clarification of those rules. The clarification was issued by Brian Frieden, working on behalf of RMA, and based in Springfield, Ill.
The rules are clear if you want to plant certain crops that can be insured and backed by federal crop insurance in regards to cover crops, he notes. Potential crops you could plant and cover by insurance include corn, sweet corn, popcorn, hybrid seed corn, processing pumpkins, soybeans, processing beans and grain sorghum.
If you will be planting into a field with a cover crop, first you must stop haying the cover crop growing in that field by May 10, 2013. You must also terminate all cover crop growth at least seven days before the final planting date for the spring crop you are planting.
Note that this refers to the final planting date recognized by USDA. Some people vary on when they kill a cover crop in relation to planting on their farm.
For those in an area where double-cropping is a recognized practice by RMA, you may be able to plant soybeans, processing beans or grain sorghum without meeting these requirements outlined for first crops. However, there will be additional rules to follow, and premiums will be higher.
The best advice is that if you are seeding cover crops and whether you intend to graze or make hay form them next spring or not, contact your insurance agent to see how your plans line up with RMA rules about cover crops and insuring the crop that follows them. As demonstrated in 2012, the last thing you will want to do is anything that would cause you to lose crop insurance on your corn and soybean acres in 2013.