Farmers say investment in cover crops are good news for agriculture

A pair of Midwestern farmers say recent national investments in cover crops will help improve profitability and become more sustainable.

Indiana farmer J.R. Roesner, chair of the Ethanol Action Team for the National Corn Growers Association, says the USDA is helping to advance soil health practices. “And, reach the needs of our consumers, generate some extra revenue and have the freedom to farm like we’ve had in the past.”

USDA, Farmers For Soil Health Initiative, NCGA, United Soybean Board, The National Pork Board and US Fish and Wildlife announced a $95 million Partnership for Climate Smart Commodities last week. The grant will help increase cover crop usage and administered through commodity groups.

Brandon Hunnicutt, a Nebraska farmer on the National Corn Growers Association board, says he will use the grant to plant additional cover crop acres. “It gives us the freedom to do that, to try some things and relieve some of the economic pressure trying some cover crops.”

USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Robert Bonnie tells Brownfield the grants are designed to be farmer-led. “The projects will invest in not only the practices themselves, also the measuring, the monitoring, verifying and then the creation of new markets whether is for carbon or commodities.”

He says many companies want a greener supply chain. “We want to make sure farmers can market that.  We want to make sure that they can benefit from that, and they can sell their commodities for more.”

Bonnie says additional programs will be announced this summer, followed by farmer feedback sessions.

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