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Mar 6, 2022
Pandemic Cover Crop Program ends March 15

Agricultural producers who have coverage under most crop insurance policies are eligible for a premium benefit from USDA if they planted cover crops during this crop year. The Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP), offered by USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), reduces producers’ overall premium bills and helps them maintain their cover crop systems.

Cultivating cover crops requires a sustained, long-term investment, and the economic challenges of the pandemic make it financially challenging for many producers to maintain cover crop systems. PCCP helps ensure producers can continue this important conservation practice.

PCCP is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative, a bundle of programs to bring financial assistance to farmers, ranchers, and producers who are feeling the impact of COVID-19 market disruptions.

How the Pandemic Cover Crop Program works

PCCP provides premium support to producers who insured their crop with most insurance policies and planted a qualifying cover crop during the 2022 crop year. The premium support is $5 per acre, but no more than the full premium owed.

Qualifying cover crops include all that are reportable to FSA, including cereals and other grasses, legumes, brassicas and other non-legume broadleaves, and mixtures of two or more cover crop species planted at the same time. A full list of qualifying cover crops is available in FSA Handbook 2-CP.

Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa have existing programs for producers to receive a premium benefit for planting cover crops. Producers who participate in one of these programs can receive an additional benefit through PCCP.

Also, PCCP does not change acreage reporting dates, reporting requirements, or any other terms of the crop insurance policy.

Eligible insurance policies

PCCP is available for most insurance policies, including Whole Farm Revenue Protection beginning in 2022.

There are a few exceptions related to policies that already provide the benefit through underlying coverage.

PCCP is not available for:

  • Post-Application Coverage Endorsement (PACE)
  • Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO)
  • Hurricane Insurance Protection – Wind Index (HIP-WI)
  • Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO)
  • Stacked Income Protection (STAX) (if an underlying policy)
  • Margin Protection (MP) (if an underling policy)

How to receive the premium benefit

Producers automatically receive the benefit if they filed the Report of Acreage form (FSA-578) by March 15, 2022 with their local FSA office. To file the report, producers should  contact their local USDA Service Center to make an appointment.

Because of the pandemic, some Service Centers are open to limited visitors. Service Center staff continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email, and other digital tools. Many FSA offices are using Microsoft Teams software to virtually meet with producers to review maps and documents for certification.

As part of filing the Report of Acreage, producers need to provide:

  • cover crop type or variety;
  • number of acres of the cover crop;
  • map with approximate boundaries for the cover crop;
  • planting dates;
  • planting pattern, when applicable;
  • producer shares; and
  • irrigation practices.

The March 15, 2022 reporting date is distinct from the normal acreage reporting date. The normal acreage reporting deadline with FSA will not change, but to receive the premium benefit, producers must  file by March 15.

The cover crop fields that producers report on the Report of Acreage form must  match what is reported to their insurance company for crop insurance policies.

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