New Legislation Tackles Environmental Protection, Supports Agriculture Producers

WASHINGTON — The Conservation Opportunity and Voluntary Environment Resilience Program Act, introduced by U.S. Representatives Sean Casten (D-Ill.) and Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), will help reduce the risk of crop damages and failures by improving soil health and resilience, help control the cost of the crop insurance program, and protect farmer’s bottom lines.

“Cover crops have numerous environmental and economic benefits, like preventing soil erosion, improving soil fertility, and reducing the rate and quantity of water runoff. This bill provides the incentive and technical support needed by producers who would like to try cover crops, but aren’t sure how to start,” said Ben Knuth, agriculture policy specialist at the National Wildlife Federation. “This bill will help producers make their land more drought and flood resistant to more powerful and frequent severe weather events, address a warming climate through increased soil carbon storage, while maintaining or increasing yields. Increasing producers’ resilience will improve the fiscal future of crop insurance without impacting the actuarial soundness of the program.” 

The bill will improve soil health, carbon sequestration, and water quality, reduce runoff and erosion, enhance resilience to extreme weather like droughts and floods and reduce costs for fertilizers. In addition, the Conservation Opportunity and Voluntary Environment Resilience Program Act will: 

  • Make the Pandemic Cover Crop Program a permanent part of crop insurance, easing the burden on producers to maintain cover crop systems
  • Rename the program the "Good Steward Cover Crop Program"
  • Provide a $5 rebate per acre on crop insurance premiums
  • Direct the Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide outreach on the program to producers and underserved communities
  • Establish a Soil Health Pilot Program for research on innovative soil health practices



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