Cover crop help available for Ohio farmers

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Cover crops can help farmers manage soil, weeds and pests. The Natural Resources Conservation Service is offering assistance to farmers who want to plant a cover crop on acres where they could not plant or lost crops earlier this year.(Farm and Dairy file pic).

SALEM, Ohio — Ohio farmers may be eligible for cover crop assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service this year.

Cover crops

Matthew Lohr, NRCS chief, said the agency offers technical and financial assistance for cover crops under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The agency is now offering a special sign-up period targeting farmers in eight states, including Ohio, who have not been able to plant this year, or have lost their crops to flooded fields.

For Ohio, the sign-up period began July 1 and will be open until funding is exhausted.

Cover crops can help manage soil, weeds and pests. They are often used during the off-season, but farmers can also use them on fields where they are unable to plant a cash crop.

Lohr noted farmers who plant cover crops may still be eligible for their prevented planting payments. Farmers are encouraged to work with their insurance agents, and with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, to make sure they understand their policies and how they work with cover crops and related programs.

According to Penn State Extension, farmers may also harvest cover crops by grazing, for hay or for silage, haylage or baleage after Sept. 1. This will allow farmers to salvage some crops for feed.

The USDA’s cover crop requirements for crop insurance purposes are that the crop is recognized as agronomically sound for erosion control or other conservation or soil improvement purposes for the area. Under these guidelines, corn may be an eligible cover crop on prevented planting acres with approval from a crop insurance adjuster.

Prevented planting

As of July 1, the RMA paid $150 million in prevented planting claims, with that number expected to climb through July.

The USDA’s Farm Service Agency has adjusted its requirements for prevented planting claims. While uninsured producers must file within 15 days of the final planting date for their crop, if insured producers file with the RMA according to their timeline and rules, the FSA will accept their claims as being filed appropriately until July 15.

Bill Northey, U.S. Department of Agriculture under secretary for farm production and conservation, said the disaster program has a provision for prevented planting payments through its own program. These payments have not been set yet, but the demand for funds will likely be greater than the availability.

MFP payments

Steve Peterson, FSA associate administrator, said acres with cover crops will be considered in lieu of cash crops for minimal Market Facilitation Program payments.

“They have to be planted, but they don’t have to be a specific commodity,” Peterson explained.

Farmers seeking assistance with cover crops should contact their local NRCS office for information and to sign up. More information on special assistance for 2019 is available at www.farmers.gov.

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