Cover crops are an important conservation tool for farmers. They naturally add organic matter to the soil, prevent nutrient runoff, and keep our waterways clean. Over time they help farmers reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers and chemicals. But planting cover crops costs money and time. To encourage farmers to adopt cover crops, Illinois is seeking to replicate an Iowa program that provides a $5 per acre reward for crop insurance premiums for every acre covered.
We have been working in coalition with American Farmland Trust and other organizations to bring this “Fall Cover for Spring Savings” program to Illinois. The coalition of groups recommend that the Illinois Department of Agriculture implement the crop insurance reward program. Our coalition is seeking support from champions to show the Department of Agriculture that the buzz is catching and that the Illinois community is in favor a this program.
You can help! Urge Illinois legislators to support the program by signing Midwest American Farmland Trust online petition at this link.
Three soil health champion farmers have gone the extra mile by sharing their story in local newspaper about why soil health, water quality, and programs that support farmers are vital for us to protect water and reach nutrient loss reduction goals.
Need a little inspiration? Read each of the soil health champions stories by clicking the links below:
“To keep not just my farm but the whole community prospering for many more generations, we need to stop washing that soil downstream and start caring for it like it’s more than just dirt.”
“I’m excited about a program piloted last year in Iowa that provides a $5 reward on crop insurance premiums for every acre planted with cover crops. Even if every farmer who plants rye or winter wheat doesn’t get as interested in soil health as we have, cover crops are a key strategy for holding soil in place year to year. Illinois ought to replicate this program, which has support from a wide range of Illinois farm and conservation groups.”
“My family has been farming in Illinois as far back as anyone can remember. Farming supported my parents and grandparents and generations before them. In recent years, then, I’ve wondered why, when we’re farming twice the acres they did, my husband and I need off-farm jobs to make ends meet. The answers we’re discovering are coming from a surprising place: the ground under our feet.”
“And here’s where we find the answer to my question: investing in soil health is an investment in our community and our local economy. On our farm, our cover crops — and now our animals — are saving us money on inputs.”
“We need this program [Fall Covers for Spring Savings Program] and others like it to incentivize farmers to use practices in line with ecosystem science. As farmers, we need to see our work as part of a system as well. Farming is a fiduciary responsibility: we are trustees of an asset that we must maintain and improve for our children and grandchildren. Investing in the functionality of our soil will keep us on our farms for generations to come”