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Illinois boosts farming sustainability with cover crop incentive
Illinois Ag Connection - 12/01/2023

The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) is rolling out the fifth installment of its "Fall Covers for Spring Savings" program. This initiative, aimed at promoting sustainable farming practices, allows farmers to receive financial incentives for adopting cover crops.

A new feature this year is the introduction of a pre-enrollment period beginning at 8:00 A.M. CST on December 4, 2023, followed by the program submission period starting on December 15, 2023. This structure allows users to enter and validate their information ahead of time, with the flexibility to edit their applications before submission.

The program has allocated 140,000 acres for the 2024 season, reflecting the high demand observed in the previous year when requests exceeded the available acreage in less than a day. Jerry Costello II, Illinois Director of Agriculture, emphasizes the multiple benefits of cover crops, including improved soil health, erosion reduction, and enhanced moisture retention.

The initiative, in conjunction with Illinois' involvement in the U.S. Gulf Hypoxia Task Force, has expanded its reach, adding 40,000 acres in the previous year. John Kim, Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, notes the growing number of producers adopting cover crops through this program.

Eligibility for the program includes acreage in Illinois seeded to cover crops in fall 2023 that will be planted to an insurable crop in 2024. Participants can receive up to $5 per acre in premium discounts on next year's crop insurance.

To apply, farmers must certify their cover crops with their local Farm Service Agency office and provide relevant documentation, including FSA-578 and federal crop insurance policy number(s).

This discount program, distinct from other state or federal incentives, aims to verify cover crop planting through various tools. Eligibility is limited to those covered under the United States Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency crop insurance program.

Applications for the program can be accessed at IDOA's Cover Crop Application portal and will be accepted until January 15, 2024, at 11:59 P.M. CST. For more information, interested parties can contact IDOA directly at (217) 782-6297.

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