Crop Insurance Worries

While cover crops are becoming more popular among no-tillers, you’d better take a closer look at how the practice may impact crop insurance payments. Unfortunately, cover crops could inadvertently terminate your crop insurance coverage.

There are many reasons to seed cover crops, and it’s getting more complicated as growers mix legumes, brassicas, small grains and other crops together in tankmixes.

Be Cautious

Chris Bruynis, an Ohio State University extension educator, says the Risk Management Agency (RMA) recognizes that cover crops are ergonomically sound for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement.

But depending on the stage of development, cover crops may make an insurable crop ineligible for insurance. The key is understanding the subtle interpretations in the RMA rules, he says.

As an example, RMA doesn’t permit crop insurance coverage for small grain interplanted with another crop, such as soybeans.

“This interplanting rule specifically prohibits the use of a grain drill or other tillage-based planting of cover-crop seed,” Bruynis says. “The only approved method for establishing a cover-crop seeding in standing wheat would be broadcasting the seed over the top of the wheat. Once wheat is harvested, drilling is acceptable.”

Bruynis says most policies indicate any acreage following another crop that has reached the head and/or bud stage and harvested in the same calendar year is not eligible for crop insurance.

So cover crops seeded following wheat, soybeans or corn might not be insurable. I’d think this also rules out coverage for both wheat and soybeans…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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