The following changes have been made to cover crop rules on the summer fallow crop insurance policy, according to Ryan Stockwell, senior agriculture program manager with the National Wildlife Federation:
1. Cover crop termination requirement is pushed out to 90 days before intended insured crop planting date for late spring to fall planted crops (the termination requirement remains “as soon as practical” for cover crops preceding early spring planted crops such as wheat, barley or corn).
2. Grazing of a cover crop is now prohibited under a summer fallow crop insurance policy (it is still allowed under continuous cropping coverage).
Stockwell shared that the RMA has not released the scientific underpinnings to these changes. Moreover, these changes do not fall in line with earlier assessments and modeling conducted by NRCS regarding impacts on soil moisture levels (the main concern RMA has regarding cover crops in a dry environment).
As this issue is still being debated, any scientific research on the issue of soil moisture and cover crops would be helpful. Please share them or send them directly to Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a PDF with a further explanation of the guidelines:
- NRCS Cover Crop Termination Guidelines Non-Irrigated Cropland (PDF)
- NRCS Issues Guidelines On Cover Crop Termination
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