The AGree E2 Coalition advocates for changes to the federal crop insurance program that remove roadblocks to conservation and acknowledge the risk-reducing benefits of environmentally sound farming practices. In 2019, more than 370 million acres of farmland were covered by federal crop insurance. Therefore, changes to the program can have wide-ranging implications for farming practices across America, making federal crop insurance a key mechanism for change in the food and ag system.
One way this can be accomplished is through the introduction of new crop insurance products that de-risk conservation practice adoption, such as cover crops, post-application nitrogen, crop rotations, and conservation tillage. For example, an insurance product could be designed for farmers who choose not to apply nitrogen in the fall (when it is likely to wash away before plant uptake in the spring) so that if they are prevented from making a spring application due to wet weather, they will be insured against potential yield reductions.
One legislative example is the Cover Crop Flexibility Act of 2020, introduced by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in March 2020. This bill encourages wider use of cover crops by removing a disincentive within the federal crop insurance program that can discourage farmers from planting cover crops after taking a prevented planting claim. The AGree E2 Coalition published a letter in support of this bill, which will allow farmers who are prevented from planting their intended crop to seed cover crops and thereby salvage minimal value from their fields, while improving soil health and reducing their long-term risk.
These papers published by the AGree Coalition explore complex and controversial aspects of the federal crop insurance program, alongside creative ideas for change.