January 18, 2022

Cover crop insurance incentive program unveiled

INDIANAPOLIS — The Nature Conservancy and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture have partnered to implement the Upper White River Crop Insurance Incentive Program to help increase the amount of acres in the state that are planted in cover crops.

Mike Dunn, who serves as the director of freshwater conservation programs for the Indiana chapter of The Nature Conservancy, said the conservancy came together with ISDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency to support the shared conservation goals led by the Indiana Agriculture Nutrient Alliance.

The alliance is comprised of state and federal conservation agencies, commodity and agricultural organizations and Purdue University.

Dunn said the incentive program specifically supports the IANA’s shared goal of 40% of Indiana’s row crop acres utilizing living green cover by 2025.

Dunn said the incentive program reflects similar successful statewide programs that are already established in Illinois and Iowa.

The program will reward farmers who plant cover crops on their land by offering a reduced premium on a farmer’s crop insurance.

Dunn said the idea to start the program in Indiana was championed by IANA members, most notably ISDA’s Deputy Director Jordan Seger, who saw how the programs were working in other states and spearheaded the IANA partnership to initiate an effort in Indiana.

Indiana is a leader in soil health and cover crop adoption, Dunn said, with roughly 10% of cropland in Indiana currently utilizing cover crops.

To initiate the incentive program, the partners needed to secure funding for the program, Dunn said.

In Illinois and Iowa, state legislators supported the efforts, but in Indiana private funds were needed and ultimately were supplied by the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

Dunn said the cover crop insurance incentive program is geared toward counties in the Upper White River watershed of central Indiana, where the charitable trust is focused on improving the water quality of the White River.

Qualifying counties in the Upper White Region include Henry, Delaware, Madison, Hamilton, Tipton and Randolph.

Farmers who plant cover crops on owned or rented acres will receive a $5 per acre crop insurance premium for this three-year program. Farmers who planted cover crops in the fall of 2020 are also eligible to apply.

The deadline to apply is March 15.

For more information or to view an application, visit https://tinyurl.com/mhh5h8sw.

Ashley Estes

Ashley Estes

Field Editor