National webinar on new USDA cover crop termination policy, January 23

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The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) will host a national webinar on January 23, 2014, to discuss the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent efforts to assure greater uniformity and clarity on its policy related to farmers who currently grow cover crops or may grow them in the future.

The webinar will address the critical question that the new policy is designed to answer: When and how can cover crops be terminated without jeopardizing valuable crop insurance coverage of the cash crops grown with them?

This policy arose out of the concern that farmers planting cover crops could lose their eligibility for crop insurance coverage of the following crop.  The new policy addresses this concern, using science-based cover crop management guidelines accepted across USDA agencies.

The webinar will feature speakers from the USDA task force that crafted the new cover crop termination policy, and there will be ample opportunity for farmers and other webinar participants to ask questions about how the policy will work on the ground.

The webinar is funded in part by the USDA Risk Management Agency through the Risk Management Education Partnership Program and will bring together four cover crop policy experts: 

Rob Myers, Regional Director of Extension Programs for the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program, will introduce the topic by providing background on cover crop use and the need for termination policy change. 

Tim Hoffmann, Director of Product Administration and Standards Division with the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA), will discuss the policy as it relates to crop insurance coverage and compliance. 

Norm Widman, National Agronomist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will walk participants through the new guidelines and how they implicate existing conservation practices.

Jeff Schahczenski, Agriculture Policy and Funding Research Director with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), will kick off the extensive question and answer period by addressing some specific issues with the new policy’s impact on grain farmers in the Great Plains, where wheat-fallow rotations remain a persistent practice. 

Ferd Hoefner, NSAC Policy Director, and Sophia Kruszewski, NSAC Policy Specialist, will be on hand to moderate questions.

The Webinar will take place on January 23, 2014, between 1:00 and 2:30 p.m. CST (noon at 1:30 p.m. MST). 

The first half hour will consist of presentations by the four panelists, with the remaining time allocated for a question and answer session.  The webinar is primarily geared toward providing answers to questions from farmers and farm organizations, but participation is open to all, including certified crop advisors, crop insurance agents, and others.

The webinar is free and accessible by visiting:    

The new cover crop policy can be found at:


Jeff Schahczenski, National Center for Appropriate Technology

Sophia Kruszewski, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition