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Additional funds designated to Illinois cover crop incentive program

An additional 20,000 acres will be accepted into the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Fall Covers for Spring Savings program for 2023.

Illinois Director of Agriculture Jerry Costello tells Brownfield funds were available for up to 140,000 acres when applications opened in December.

“And today, by finding some unused federal funds that have rolled over from the last three years we did a small match with state of Illinois funds and we are able to add another 20,000 acres. So, that is 160,000 acres in total.”

He says allotment was filled in about 5 hours. “It sets a record for the number of contracts that have been applied for and the number of acres that have been applied for. And now we will be able to fill 160,000 out of the 182,000 that were applied for.”

The program began with a 50,000 acre allotment in 2020, jumped to 100,000 acres the past two years and reached 160,000 for 2023. Costello’s goal in future years is to reach 200,000 acres accepted into the program.

“It’s a program that is very important to the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy and from a carbon capture aspect. And not only are we reducing runoff, we are also aerating the soil because of the roots. It is a win-win and an area where the agriculture and environmental communities come together toward something in common.”

The program awards farmers a $5 per acres crop insurance discount for fields planted to cover crops in the fall, followed by an insurable crop in the spring.

Costello made the announcement during the 2023 Conservation Cropping Seminar in Springfield Wednesday.

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