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Frequently Asked Questions

2015 Cover Crop and Crop Insurance for Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan

Mar 17, 2015

Note: This document may be updated for the 2016 Crop Year and refers to crop insurance requirements for cover crops grown in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan only.

The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) supplement the General FAQ’s issued on December 23, 2014, and are specifically for cover crops grown in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. All counties in these states are in NRCS Management Zone 4 and must be terminated according to the NRCS Cover Crop Termination Guidelines (September 2014, Version 3).

Q: For crop insurance purposes what is a cover crop?
A: A crop generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement.

Q: If I farm in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio or Michigan, when do I have to terminate my cover crop to insure the following crop?
A: For non-irrigated acreage, cover crops in NRCS Management Zone 4 must be terminated at, or within 5 days after planting of the insured crop, but before crop emergence. For irrigated crops, cover crops should be terminated based on the crop system and conservation purpose, but before the insured crop emerges. Please see the General FAQ’s issued on December 23, 2014, for information on termination requirements in other states.

Q: Can I graze or harvest hay or silage from my cover crop prior to termination?
A: According to the NRCS Guidelines, for the 2015 crop year cover crops may be grazed or harvested as hay or silage, unless prohibited by RMA crop insurance policy provisions. In Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, there are no RMA crop provisions that would prohibit the haying and grazing of cover crops that precede a crop (in accordance with special provisions in the actuarial documents). Please keep in mind that cover crops cannot be otherwise harvested, such as for grain or seed, etc.

Q: I was prevented from planting my insured crop, and I would like to establish a cover crop on the prevented planted acreage. My crop insurance agent explained that the NRCS Guidelines will not apply to this cover crop, and I need to be aware of the haying and grazing restrictions. Why is that?
A: The NRCS Guidelines are applicable in determining the insurability of a crop that follows a cover crop. According to the special provisions statement in the actuarial documents, insurance shall attach to the crop following a cover crop if the cover crop 1) Meets the definition provided in the basic provisions; 2) Was planted in the last 12 months; and 3) Was managed and terminated according to the NRCS Guidelines.

Once the insurability criteria in the special provisions statement has been established, the crop is insurable. For cover crops that follow a prevented planting determination on an insurable crop, rules and regulations in the Prevented Planting Loss Adjustment Standards Handbook will apply. Generally, once you receive a prevented planting payment you can later plant a cover crop on the prevented planting acreage but you cannot hay or graze that cover crop before November 1, (and cannot otherwise harvest anytime), or you will impact your prevented planting payment.

Contact Information

For additional information on how cover crops can be found in the Special Provisions of Insurance or talk with a crop insurance agent.