Farmers Switch to Cover Crops for the Subsidies, Continue for the Benefits

cover crops subsidies benefits

Federal subsidies may help get farmers started using cover crops – but once they’ve adopted the practice, the overwhelming majority find the benefits so great that they’d keep using cover crops even without the payments.

That’s a key finding from the latest annual National Cover Crop Survey Report, released last month.

The conventional wisdom is that many farmers only use cover crops to be able to collect government subsidies for the practice. It’s true that nearly half of cover crop users do receive USDA payments – and even more of the farmers who don’t use cover crops – 78% – say the payments could persuade them to start.

However, according to the survey, more than 90% of farmers using cover crops say they’d keep planting them even without the incentive payments.

“Cover crop incentive payments are an important factor in encouraging and helping farmers to transition into cover cropping,” says Dr. Rob Myers of SARE, lead researcher on the 2022-2023 National Cover Crop Survey Report. “But once they see the soil health improvements and other cover crop benefits, most stick with cover crop planting long after the incentives end.”

You can learn much, much more about cover crops in the horticulture section of our website – including how they can support beneficial insects, and even how they can be used to convert bermudagrass pasture to crop fields.

Tag(s): cover crops

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