The USDA has launched a cover crop pilot program
By Diego Flammini
The USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is implementing a 2018 Farm Bill program to reward eligible farmers for seeding cover crops.
The Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP) is open to farmers in the prairie pothole states of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. It allows farmers in those states to receive payments for planting cover crops on their land for three to five years.
The program is also an alternative to traditional Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts, which are between 10 and 15 years long.
A total of 50,000 acres can be enrolled in SHIPP with the sign-up window opening March 30 and closing on Aug. 21. Selected contracts will begin on Oct. 1.
“The number of acres that can be enrolled in the program is limited, and participation will be on a first come, first served basis,” Richard Fordyce, administrator of the FSA, said in a Feb. 24 statement. “Interested landowners should act now by contacting their FSA county office for an appointment to apply.”
Farmland must meet the following characteristics to be eligible for SHIPP:
- It must be less productive land on the farm
- It must have been planted (and not in CRP) in crop years 2017, 2018 and 2019
- It must have a total of no more than 15 per cent of the eligible land per farm enrolled in SHIPP
Farmers in eligible states welcome the opportunity to enrol in the program.
“The South Dakota Soybean Association is very appreciative of the flexibility, soil and water benefits, and grazing opportunities that SHIPP has to offer,” Jeff Thompson, president of the South Dakota Soybean Association, said on Feb. 24.
Farms.com has reached out to farmers and ag organizations in eligible states for comment.