Illinois Commits to an Additional 20,000 Acres of Cover Crops
The Illinois Fall Covers for Spring Savings (FCSS) program has made strides in promoting regenerative agriculture practices and improving soil and water health in Illinois. With the support of American Farmland Trust and our partners, the FCSS program has incentivized the use of Illinois cover crops to achieve these goals, as well as play a key role in sequestering carbon to mitigate climate change.
Farmers who participate in the FCSS program receive a $5/acre crop insurance premium discount for every accepted acre of cover crops. The program’s results in 2022, its third full year of implementation, were impressive with over 100,000 acres of cover crops receiving premium discounts. That translated to $500,000 in savings for Illinois farmers. Beyond the monetary incentive for farmers, planting cover crops increases a farm’s soil fertility and reduces soil erosion, helping farmers keep nutrients on their cropland and out of downstream waterways. Plus, healthy soil captures and stores more carbon, making Illinois farmers key players in the global effort to mitigate climate impacts.
The value of FCSS to Illinois farmers was clearly demonstrated again this year with over 828 farmers applying for 182,000 acres during the signup period. In response to this major interest, the state allocated additional funds to support 20,000 more acres on top of the 140,000 previously allocated in 2023.
American Farmland Trust has been a national player in promoting regenerative agricultural practices that restore soil health, protect waterways, and sequester carbon. Through its support and advocacy in the Midwest, AFT has been instrumental in bringing attention to and educating farmers and landowners about the importance of Illinois cover crops in improving the health and viability of their farms and surrounding communities. The Illinois Fall Covers for Spring Savings program has been a prime example of how regenerative agriculture practices can be supported and implemented at a state level.
The Illinois Fall Covers for Spring Savings program has been a huge success in promoting regenerative agriculture and improving soil and water health in Illinois. Though more cover crops in the state is helping mitigate climate impacts, there is still far to go according to goals set in Illinois’ Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. The success of the FCSS program so far sets a strong foundation for the upcoming 2023 season, and the state’s additional funding provides more opportunities for farmers to improve their lands, conserve natural resources, and play a key role in mitigating climate change.
American Farmland Trust continues to work with its partners to ensure financial support for farmers implementing cover crops and the success and growth of the FCSS program for years to come.