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NO-TILLERS WHO ARE already utilizing cover crops should be interested in a proposed pilot program that might help them trim crop insurance costs in the years ahead. The goal of the proposed National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) program is to reward growers who find ways to reduce the risk for crop losses and protect the environment with increased use of cover crops.
A non-profit organization dedicated to protecting public health and the environment, NRDC asked for proposals from a number of consulting firms by May 15 to assist in development of this potential cover crop incentive program.
With nearly 300 million acres enrolled during the 2014 crop year, the Federal Crop Insurance Program is very expensive and by far the largest federal farm program. While the overall crop insurance program goal is to help producers manage risk, the current crop insurance program unfortunately does not consider improved soil health as a key risk management tool.
As a result, NRDC staffers argue that greater adoption of proven soil-building practices, such as cover cropping and no-till, could significantly reduce yield variability and weather-related crop losses. The proposed program would look at the opportunity to offer significant discounts to farmers relying on cover crops to improve the environment and help them become a much lower insurance risk due to crop loss.
As initially outlined, the program would encourage producers to view soil health as an economically preferable risk management tool that reduces yield variability and improves yield — traits…