By Illinois Radio Network/Cole Lauterbach
SPRINGFIELD – The state of Illinois is willing to pay farmers to plant cover crops on their fields to help them deal with historic flooding.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced that it is making $400,000 available to be distributed to farmers who will plant cover crops on their unplanted fields this summer. Fields are registered on a first-come, first-serve basis at their local Soil and Water Conservation District or Farm Service Agency office.
“Due to a high number of farmers taking Prevented Planting, we felt a cover crop initiative would benefit farmers and the soil, a win-win for both,” Director John Sullivan said. “Cover crops help to control weeds on the Prevented Planting acres, conserve and prevent erosion of the soil and reduce nutrient runoff while the land lays fallow for the next growing season.”
Sullivan said the incentive for cover crop came from Illinois Department of Agriculture staffers responding to a request by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to further help farmers dealing with the historic flooding this spring.
The program pays $5 per acre while funds are available. As of Monday, Sullivan said forty percent of the total allotment had been allocated.
The program is separate from another one that incentivizes cover crops after harvest. To qualify for the Prevented Planting Cover Crop incentive program, farmers must have chosen the Prevented Planting option in their USDA RMA crop insurance program for 2019 and use cover crops on their prevented planting acres for weed control.
Pritzker has declared dozens of Illinois counties disaster areas due to this spring’s heavy rains and flooding.