Iowa farmers who plant cover crops this fall may be eligible for a $5-per-acre premium reduction on their crop insurance in 2018, under a pilot program announced last week by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS).

The pilot program is aimed at increasing acres of cover crops in the state. IDALS worked with the  U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agen­cy (RMA) to establish a three-year demonstration project aimed at expanding the usage of cover crops in Iowa.

IDALS has opened the online sign-up and application process for farmers and landowners to certify eligible land for the program. Farmers can enroll at

“We see this new crop insurance premium reduction as a great way to reach a broader group of farmers and landowners in order to promote continued interest in planting cover crops,” said Mike Naig, deputy Iowa agriculture secretary. “This streamlined incentive coupled with traditional state and federal cost-share programs provides farmers and landowners with a variety of options to gain experience with cover crops and expand their use.”

RMA Acting Administrator Heather Manzano said: “Crop insurance is critical to the health of the rural economy, and proper use of cover crops is critical to the health of the soil that farmers need.”

Deadline Jan. 15
Applications for the pilot program will be taken until Jan. 15, 2018. Cover crop acres currently enrolled in state and/or federal programs aren’t eligible for this program.

Research has shown that cover crops can help prevent erosion and improve water quality and soil health, among other benefits. Farmers are encouraged to continue seeding winter-hardy cover crops as harvest wraps up to protect their soil from the elements this spring.

The new premium reduction will be available for fall-planted cover crops with a spring-planted cash crop. Some policies may be excluded, such as Whole-Farm Revenue Protection or those covered through written agreements.