The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) will again offer state-funded incentives linking cover crops to USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) crop insurance.

Last year’s first Fall Covers for Spring Savings Program supported 50,000 cover crop acres, while 70% of farmer applicants reported planting their first cover crops.

“Cover crops are a great way to keep soil anchored, salvage nitrogen, capture carbon and create weed suppression,” Acting Agriculture Director Jerry Costello II said in a statement.

Eligible acres are those covered by a RMA crop insurance program, seeded with a cover crop in fall 2020 and not covered by any other state or federal incentives, such as the Conservation Stewardship Program or Environmental Quality Incentive Program.

Participating farmers will receive a $5 per acre premium discount on the 2021 crop insurance invoice for each enrolled and verified cover crop acre in the program.

As part of their fall decisions, farmers should consider their eligibility in the incentive program; however, applications will not be available online until early December.

Applications will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis until a 50,000-acre statewide cap is met. IDOA does not limit the number of acres a farmer may enroll in the program.

IDOA will use a combination of tools to verify that application acres are seeded in a cover crop. Only confirmed acres and applications will be forwarded to RMA for processing and to have premium discounts applied to 2021 crop insurance invoices.

IDOA developed the program with legislative leadership assistance from state Sens. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, and Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, in the 2019 legislative session.

For more information about the cover crops incentive program, click here and select the Plants tab at the top of the page, and then click on the cover crops tab in the drop down box. Applications for the 2020 program are to be posted on that page.

Information also is available by calling IDOA at 217-782-6297.