DES MOINES ? Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig is encouraging farmers using cover crops and not receiving state or federal cost share to consider participating in a state program that provides a $5 per acre premium reduction on crop insurance.
Farmers who plant cover crops this fall could be eligible for the reduction on their crop insurance in 2019.
This is the second year of the program that is aimed at increasing acres of cover crops in the state. More than 700 farmers used cover crops on nearly 170,000 acres last fall in the inaugural year of the demonstration project.
Program information and the online sign-up and application process for farmers and landowners to certify eligible land for the program can be found at www.cleanwateriowa.org/covercropdemo.
In an effort to streamline the sign-up process, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is in the process of developing a new, online sign-up format. At this time, sign-up is currently not open, but interested participants can get more background on the program and to help plan their cover crop seeding this fall. Farmers are encouraged to wait to apply until their cover crop seeding has been completed.
Applications will be taken until Jan. 15. Cover crop acres currently enrolled in state and/or federal programs are not eligible for this program.
?We recently announced that the popular statewide cost share program that provides assistance to farmers using cover crops is closed and this crop insurance incentive program offers another option for growers that were limited in acres or were not able to receive funding through that program,? Naig said.
The premium reduction will be available for fall-planted cover crops with a spring-planted cash crop. Some policies could be excluded, such as Whole-Farm Revenue Protection or those covered through written agreements. Participating farmers must follow all existing good farming practices required by their policy and work with their insurance agent to maintain eligibility.
The IDALS worked with the United States Department of Agriculture?s Risk Management Agency, which oversees the federal crop insurance program, to establish the three-year demonstration project.
Crop insurance is an integral part of the farm safety net that helps farmers manage the risks associated with growing a crop and provides protection for farmers impacted by severe weather and challenging growing conditions. Cover crops can help prevent erosion and improve water quality and soil health, among other benefits.
The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is a science and technology based approach to achieving a 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to our waters. The strategy brings together both point sources, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban stormwater runoff to address these issues.
The initiative seeks to harness the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to deliver a clear and consistent message to stakeholders to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.
The initiative is seeing some exciting results. This fall, 2,800 farmers invested an estimated $9 million in funding to match $5 million in state cost share funds to adopt cover crops, no-till or strip till, or use a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Participants include more than 1,000 farmers using a practice for the first time and nearly 1,800 past users who are trying cover crops again and are receiving a reduced rate of cost share.
A total of 64 demonstration projects are currently located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices. This includes 14 targeted watershed projects, seven projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 43 urban water quality demonstration projects. More than 250 organizations are participating in these projects. These partners will provide $42.2 million to go with the $31.5 million in state funding going to these projects.
More than $420 million in funding has been documented for efforts in support of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy last year. This represents a $32 million increase of funding in support of Iowa water quality programs and conservation efforts over the previous year.
More information about the initiative can be found at www.CleanWaterIowa.org.