It’s becoming clear that cover crops offer enough benefits that farmers from many different states and climates are willing to give them a shot.
There’s also a sizeable number of growers, even no-tillers, who are reluctant to seed covers. It may be due to cost, concerns over water use, herbicide carryover concerns, or other issues.
If it’s crop-insurance rules stopping you, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) wants to know. The national organization is currently taking an anonymous survey of farmers in an effort to better understand the impacts of recent changes to crop insurance, and how the Risk Management Agency and crop insurance companies are handling the cover-crop issue.
No personal or identifiable information will be collected. Your answers will help improve crop insurance rules on cover crops, as well as how crop insurance companies approach this growing agronomic practice.
To fill out this survey, go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5YCB7L5. If you don’t see your state listed, type your home state in the “Other” box.
Based on preliminary results, crop-insurance concerns appear to be the biggest reason that farmers are holding back from using covers, says Ryan Stockwell, senior ag program manager for the NWF.
“Also, a majority of farmers so far have indicated they would be somewhat likely, or likely, to switch crop insurers if another insurer offered better service on cover crops, such as having knowledge of covers and related policies and rules,” Stockwell says.
Acknowledging that some federal agencies were actively incentivizing farmers to seed covers, and other agencies were punishing farmers for doing so, the RMS, USDA and NRCS, along with the NWF and other ag stakeholders, convened a task force to make changes to the government’s guidelines on management and termination of cover crops. The latest available document from the RMA, just updated yesterday, can be found here. Another important document is the NRCS’ guidelines on cover-crop termination, which can be downloaded here.
Despite these major directives from the USDA, Stockwell reports hearing from many farmers encountering crop insurance agents who don’t know about the revised federal rules, or are going by their own rules or interpretations.
If it’s not crop insurance, but something else that is keeping you from seeding cover crops on your farm, feel free to send me a note and perhaps I can find someone to answer your questions or concerns.