The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is offering its cover crop insurance discount program again this year, Iowa Agriculture Sec­­retary Mike Naig announced recently. 

The program gives farmers and landowners who plant fall cover crops, like rye and oats, the opportunity to apply for a $5 per acre discount on their spring crop insurance premiums. Sign-up for the program will begin in December. 

“Planting cover crops is a great way for farmers to build upon existing conservation efforts in their farming operations,” said Naig. “Every field is different, so I encourage farmers and landowners to talk to their agronomist, conservation professional or seed representative to determine which varieties of cover crops may work best for their growing conditions. I hope everyone will consider planting cover crops on at least one field this fall.”

To qualify, the cover crop acres cannot be enrolled in other state or U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) cost-share programs. More in­formation about the cover crop insurance discount program is available at

Cover crops help improve soil health, prevent soil erosion and lock in nutrients, especially during extreme weather events. Cover crops are proven to reduce nitrogen loads by 28% to 31% and phosphorous loads by 29%, which helps improve water quality. They also offer weed control and livestock grazing benefits for farmers.

Participation increasing

This is the fifth year the crop insurance discount program is being administered by IDALS and USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA). 

Interest in the program continues to grow, and new farmers and fields join each year. To date, about 1,700 farmers have enrolled nearly 700,000 acres of cover crops in the program. Other states have also started offering similar programs modeled after the one in Iowa, including Illinois and Indiana. 

Some insurance policies may be excluded, like Whole-Farm Revenue Protection or those covered through written agreements. 

Participants must follow all existing farming practices re­­quired by their policy and work with their insurance agencies to maintain eligibility.