WASHINGTON D.C. — The U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Committees should listen to the more than three-quarters of U.S. farmers and discount crop insurance premiums for producers who utilize in-field conservation practices, such as planting cover crops, to reduce risk of crop failure. A new poll conducted for the National Wildlife Federation showed that 78 percent of U.S. row crop farmers support this approach.
“By better incorporating risk-reducing conservation practices into crop insurance through voluntary, actuarially sound premium subsidy discounts, like the pilot Cover Crop Program, we can reduce the long-term costs of crop insurance to taxpayers, create healthier soils, and improve water quality,” said Julie Sibbing, associate vice president for land stewardship at the National Wildlife Federation. “This poll shows that most farmers know this already, and would like USDA to reward farmers who are reducing their risk.”
“Our food system is on a precipice. We are already losing roughly five tons of cropland soil per acre per year to erosion, and the risks posed by climate change and extreme weather events will only further exacerbate this degradation,” said U.S. Representative Sean Casten (D-Ill.). “Farmers see that conservation management practices improve their soil’s health and their land’s resilience, while reducing their production risks. Farmers who voluntarily plant cover crops and utilize other soil health practices ought to receive permanent and reliable benefits for their low-risk behavior. I’ve introduced the COVER Act to continue to offer farmers a popular discount on their crop insurance for planting cover crops and improving the long-term resilience of their land.”
“Farmers are the original conservationists. By utilizing cover crops, they can increase yield, decrease pesticide use, and reduce runoff into waterways — like Lake Erie and Grand Lake St. Mary. That’s good for all Ohioans,” said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). “The pandemic cover crop program was simple and popular among farmers, and it worked. We need to make sure that the next farm bill does the same.”
The polling found:
More than three-quarters of row crop farmers (78 percent) support the USDA offering discounts on premiums for engaging in conservation practices that have been shown to reduce the risk of crop failure.
Two-thirds of row crop farmers (66 percent) support the inclusion of the USDA's crop insurance premium discount program as a permanent option within the crop insurance program. Only 19 percent opposed making the discount permanent.
Farmers who participated in the program were nine times more likely to report having a positive experience in the program than a negative experience. Only 7 percent reported a negative experience.
The polling, done in partnership with Morning Consult, surveyed 300 crop farmers whose crop is either corn, soybeans or oilseeds, wheat, rice, cotton/fiber, or specialty crops such as vegetables, fruits, horticulture, and wine grapes. The poll, conducted March 16-21, has a margin of error of 6 percentage points.
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