Agricultural producers who have coverage under most crop insurance policies are eligible for a premium benefit from the USDA if they planted cover crops during this crop year. On Tuesday, USDA announced the Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP), which is being offered by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) to help farmers maintain their cover crop systems despite financial challenges posed by the pandemic.
The program provides premium support to producers who insured their spring crop and planted a qualifying cover crop during the 2021 crop year. The premium support is $5 per acre, but no more than the full premium owed. All cover crops reportable to FSA are eligible and include cereals and other grasses, legumes, non-legume broadleaves, as well as mixtures of two or more cover crop species planted at the same time.
“Cultivating cover crops requires a sustained, long-term investment and the economic challenges of the pandemic made it financially challenging for many producers to maintain cover crop systems,” said RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy in a news release. “Producers use cover crops to improve soil health and gain other agronomic benefits and this program will reduce producers’ overall premium bill to help ensure producers can continue this climate-smart agricultural practice.”
All cover crops reportable to FSA are eligible. This includes cereals and other grasses, legumes, brassicas and other non-legume broadleaves as well as mixtures of two or more cover crop species that are planted at the same time.
There are some restrictions and caveats as well as additional paperwork and deadlines producers must meet.
Most crop insurance policies are eligible, including the popular revenue protection and area protection products used by growers. However, there are some that are not. PCCP is not available for Whole-Farm Revenue Protection, Enhanced Coverage Option, Supplemental Coverage Option or Hurricane Insurance Protection — Wind Index policies. Staked Income Protection (STAX) and Margin Protection (MP) policies are only eligible when insured as a standalone policy, not when they’re endorsements to an underlying policy.
PCCP does not change acreage reporting dates, reporting requirements or any other terms of the crop insurance policy, but a produce must file their Report of Acreage form (FSA-578) with the Farm Services Agency by June 15, 2021. That’s different than the typical filing date. Cover crop fields reported on the form must match what the producer reported to their insurance company. For more information on filing the form, USDA encourages producers to contact their USDA Service Center.
Additional information on the PCCP, including a list of frequently asked questions, can be found at www.farmers.gov.