Cover crops improve soil health, capture carbon, prevent erosion, and help farmers deal with extreme weather, such as the incredibly wet spring of 2019 across much of the Corn Belt. This summer, the AGree Coalition sent a letter signed by eight U.S. Senators to USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey urging the update of cover crop termination guidelines to provide farmers greater flexibility and certainty to harvest, graze, and terminate cover crops and maintain eligibility for federal crop insurance on their primary cash crop. We are pleased that USDA released these new guidelines in June 2019, which will help remove roadblocks to cover crop acceptance and improve conservation outcomes.
In Fall 2019, we conducted a landscape assessment of existing cover crop resources provided by the federal government, state governments, NGOs, and private companies in order to assist policymakers, farmers, and cover crop advocacy groups understand the full scope of available cover crop programs and incentives. We found that across the United States, varying programs and policies are available to assist farmers, nongovernmental organizations, schools, and soil and water conservation districts in promoting the education and adoption of cover cropping.
In early December, AGree hosted a briefing, Cover Crops: A Soil Health and Climate Solution, supported by the Senate Climate Solutions Caucus to discuss how farm profitability, soil fertility, and climate resiliency can be improved over time with the use of cover crops. This briefing helped communicate the linkages between agriculture, conservation practices, and climate resiliency to key staffers and policymakers.