USDA allows more leeway on cover crops

Four months after it announced a temporary rule change, the USDA said on Wednesday that it would alter crop insurance rules permanently so farmers can hay, graze, or chop cover crops at any time and still be eligible for a full prevented planting payment.

Agriculture can be climate leader with ‘build back’ funding, says Vilsack

The farm sector would gain $27 billion for climate mitigation, including payments for planting cover crops, from the social welfare and climate change bill passed by the House, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Agriculture can lead the way in the fight on climate with climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices that sequester carbon, reduce emissions and create new and better market opportunities for producers."

‘Build back better’ bill would pay farmers to plant cover crops

House Democrats, acting in concert with President Biden, proposed a $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate change bill on Thursday that would combat global warming by paying farmers up to $25 an acre to grow cover crops on their land during fallow seasons. The bill also would help low-income families buy food for their children during the summer and make nearly 9 million students in high-poverty areas eligible for free school meals.

Keep climate-smart agriculture in ‘Build Back Better’ bill, say lawmakers

While Democratic leaders in Congress are trying to scale down the cost of President Biden's social welfare and climate change bill, it is important to make "bold investments ... that expand climate-smart agriculture practices," said two House Democrats. The members of the House Agriculture Committee said the money should be funneled through voluntary programs already offered by the USDA.

More farmers experiment with cover crops, a climate tool, survey shows

Slightly more than half of the country's biggest farmers say they planted cover crops this year, indicating a broadening acceptance of the crops' benefits for soil health and the accompanying complication they bring to land management, said Purdue's Ag Economy Barometer on Tuesday. Cover crops received prominent attention this year as a potential way to earn money from a carbon contract while mitigating climate change on the farm.

New $5 billion cover crop initiative in climate package

Farmers and landowners would share a combined $5 billion in payments for planting cover crops to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff under a proposal written by farm state Democrats in the Senate and House. The package would also boost spending on a handful of existing stewardship programs for total outlays of $28 billion.

Opinion: How farmers can be at the forefront of the climate solution

More than a half century after the first Earth Day, with our planet in worse shape than it’s ever been, the challenge of slowing global warming and the environmental, economic and social devastation underway can sometimes feel like too much — too expensive, too complicated and too politically divisive to overcome. But when we wake up every morning in rural Marion County, Iowa, we aren’t filled with despair. We’re filled with hope in a revolutionary idea: that farmers will help mitigate climate damage that farmers will help mitigate climate damage if we pay them to make their operations more resilient and sustainable. (No paywall)

Senator suggests building climate mitigation on USDA conservation programs

The government should use USDA conservation programs as the starting point for climate mitigation on the farm and "tread lightly" with unproven ideas like a carbon bank, said the senior Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday. Arkansas Sen. John Boozman cautioned that climate-smart practices may be too expensive for some producers to adopt.

Cover crops grow in popularity, but still a niche

Extolled as a defense against erosion and nutrient loss during fallow seasons, cover crops are being planted on a larger portion of U.S. cropland than before, said USDA economists. Plantings expanded 50 percent in a five-year period, but still only 5 percent of cropland is sown with them—and incentive payments are an important factor in adoption of the practice.