A new cover crop program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a premium benefit for producers covered by most crop insurance policies. The Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP) is being offered by USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). Benefits being offered under the new program are designed to help growers maintain cover crops in their operations, in the face of financial challenges created by the pandemic.
“Cultivating cover crops requires a sustained, long-term investment, and the economic challenges of the pandemic made it financially challenging for many producers to maintain cover crop systems,” RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy said in a press release. “Producers use cover crops to improve soil health and gain other agronomic benefits, and this program will reduce producers’ overall premium bill to help ensure producers can continue this climates-smart agricultural practice.”
Farmers that insured their spring crop and planted qualifying cover crops for the current crop year are eligible for the premium benefit under the program. The benefit under the program is $5 per acre, but no more than the full premium owed. All cover crops that are reportable to USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) are eligible for support. Examples include legumes, brassicas, and other non-legume broadleaves. Producers will need to file the appropriate paperwork with FSA by June 15 in order to receive the benefits under the program.
The new cover crop program is a component of USDA’s $6 billion Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. The collection of programs is aimed at providing financial assistance to farmers and ranchers navigating market disruptions related to COVID-19. Industry organizations including the National Association of Conservation Districts and American Farmland Trust have come out in support of the program. The groups note that additional support like that offered through the PCCP is necessary to help increase the adoption of cover cropping in agriculture.