DES MOINES – Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced a new program aimed at increasing acres of cover crops in the state. Iowa farmers who plant cover crops this fall (2017) may be eligible for a $5 per acre premium reduction on their crop insurance in 2018. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) worked with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA), who oversees the federal crop insurance program, to establish a 3 year demonstration project aimed at expanding the usage of cover crops in Iowa.
Beginning today, IDALS will open the online sign-up and application process for farmers and landowners to certify eligible land for the program at the following link: www.cleanwateriowa.org/covercropdemo.
“We see this new crop insurance premium reduction as a great way to reach a broader group of farmers and landowners in order to promote continued interest in planting cover crops,” Naig said. “This streamlined incentive coupled with traditional state and federal cost share programs provides farmers and landowners with a variety of options to gain experience with cover crops and expand their use. Cover crop seeding dates have recently been extended, so there is still an opportunity to seed more acres this fall.”
Crop insurance is an integral part of the farm safety net that helps farmers manage the risks associated with growing a crop and provides protection for farmers impacted by severe weather and challenging growing seasons. Cover crops can help prevent erosion and improve water quality and soil health, among other benefits.
“Crop insurance is critical to the health of the rural economy, and proper use of cover crops is critical to the health of the soil that farmers need,” said RMA Acting Administrator Heather Manzano.
Applications will be taken until January 15, 2018. Cover crop acres currently enrolled in state and/or federal programs are not eligible for this program.
Cover crop seeding dates have recently been extended. Farmers are encouraged to continue seeding winter hardy cover crops as harvest wraps up to provide protection from the elements this spring.
The new premium reduction will be available for fall-planted cover crops with a spring-planted cash crop. Some policies may be excluded, such as Whole-Farm Revenue Protection or those covered through written agreements. Participating farmers must follow all existing good farming practices required by their policy and work with their insurance agent to maintain eligibility.
Background on Iowa Water Quality Initiative
The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is a collaborative research based approach to achieving a 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to our waters. The strategy brings together both point sources, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, as well as nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban storm-water runoff, to address these issues.
The initiative seeks to harness the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to deliver a clear and consistent message to stakeholders to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.
In addition to the statewide cost share, there are also currently 56 existing demonstration projects located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices through the initiative. This includes 15 targeted watershed projects, 7 projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 34 urban water quality demonstration projects. More than 220 organizations are participating in these projects. These partners will provide $32.3 million dollars to go with over $21.7 million in state funding going to these projects.
More than $340 million in state and federal funds have been directed to programs with water quality benefits in Iowa last year. This total does not include the cost share amount that farmers pay to match state and federal programs or funds spent to create practices built without government assistance.
More information about the initiative can be found at www.CleanWaterIowa.org.