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Cover Crop Adoption is on the Rise: Farm Bill Directs USDA to Remove Barriers

12 April 2019
Deborah Atwood

April 12, 2019

Cover crops are a conservation practice that has been proven to optimize soil health and provide weed control. The law as written in the 2018 Farm Bill will provide greater flexibility for producers to terminate cover crops in a way that fits their local growing region and allows for changes over time as farmer experience and agronomic research advances. The law also clarifies that cover crop termination falls under the “Good Farming Practices” provision of federal crop insurance, giving farmers more flexibility about when they terminate cover crops. Previously, cover crops had to be terminated in accordance with the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service termination zones in order to maintain crop insurance eligibility. The Farm Bill also allows farmers to use cover crops in summer fallow growing regions without adversely affecting their eligibility for summer fallow crop insurance, as long as they follow Good Farming Practices.

We believe that the law will eliminate barriers to cover crop adoption while also maintaining a strong and defensible crop insurance safety net. The AGree Conservation and Crop Insurance Task Force looks forward to working closely with USDA experts over the coming months to implement this important provision and communicate its implications to producers.

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