Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is sending a clear message to America’s farmers:
Don’t farm naked—plant cover crops… LOTS of them.
At the recent American Farm Bureau Federation convention in Atlanta, Vilsack unveiled the USDA’s plan to double the number of U.S. corn and soybean acres utilizing cover crops.
**And the soil health crowd goes wild.**
By the numbers: The most recent USDA Census of Agriculture from 2017 put the total number of cover crop acres at 15.4M. The new goal? 30M by 2030.
As part of a larger soil health initiative, the Natural Resources Conservation Service will be directing $38M in EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) funds toward the project.
The main goal? Carbon sequestration.
Targeting 11 different states across the country, the program funds will be used “to help agricultural producers mitigate climate change through widespread adoption of cover crops.”
And the NRCS has some big-league buddies on board.
Climate change comrades: The program is a joint initiative between the NRCS and Farmers for Soil Health (a partnership among the United Soybean Board, National Corn Growers Association, and National Pork Board).
And they’re not wasting any time getting started.
Sign-ups for the program should begin shortly at the state level, and applications will be selected by February 11… as in, next month.
Secretary Vilsack noted that roll-out for the program needed to be done right, and that stakeholders were intricately involved in the decision-making process.
Secretary soundbite: “We know it has to be voluntary, incentive-based, it can’t be regulated. We’re excited about the opportunity.”