Extreme weather conditions have negatively impacted Ohio farmers. On June 28 the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced they will invest $4 million to help Ohio agricultural producers recover. Technical and financial assistance is now available to producers who were unable to plant their crops, or who have experienced crop loss due to flooded or wet fields. This sign-up is an opportunity for farmers to plant a cover crop.
“NRCS can be a valuable partner to help Ohio landowners with their agricultural recovery effort,” said State Conservationist Terry Cosby for NRCS in Ohio. “This special sign-up encourages farmers to plant cover crops to improve water quality and soil health, prevent soil erosion, and suppress weeds on areas not planted to crops.”
NRCS will utilize the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for this special disaster recovery sign-up. EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that helps agricultural producers protect the environment while promoting agricultural production.
Cover crops provide an alternative to fields going fallow and remaining uncovered. Cover crops also improve soil vitality by adding nutrients and organic matter. Many fields that are saturated for a long period of time face a loss of soil organisms. Cover crop roots re-establish soil health and create pathways for air and water to move through the soil, which is key to restoring it.
According to NRCS the EQIP program will be available in all 88 counties and the payment for planting cover crops will be $30 per acre with a 500 acre or $15,000 maximum cap. The Ohio NRCS office estimates the program could provide assistance for 80,000 - 130,000 acres across the state. Corn and soybeans planted at higher rates are also permitted as a cover crop.
Landowners should coordinate with other USDA farm agencies when participating in related programs. It is a producer’s responsibility to work directly with their insurance agent and RMA to ensure they understand their policy.
To apply for this special EQIP opportunity, visit yourlocal USDA Service Center. Applications will be accepted beginning July 1, 2019 until funding is exhausted.