Pandemic Cover Crop Program FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

The original reporting deadline for the Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP) was March 15. For qualifying cover crops that are planted after March 15, producers now have through May 31, 2022 to report those cover crop acres.

Last updated April 8, 2022

 

What is the Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP)?

The Pandemic Cover Crop Program is a program established by USDA to help producers maintain their cover crop systems amid a financially challenging time because of the COVID-19 pandemic. PCCP is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative, through which USDA is establishing programs and efforts to bring financial assistance to farmers, ranchers, and producers who felt the impact of COVID-19 market disruptions.

PCCP provides premium support to eligible producers who insured their spring crop with most insurance policies and planted on acreage where a qualifying cover crop was planted after June 15, 2021, of the 2021 crop year, or during the 2022 crop year. The premium support is up to $5 per acre, but no more than the full premium owed.

This is the second year of the program, and these FAQs are specific to the 2022 version of the program.

What is a qualifying cover crop?

All cover crops reportable to the Farm Service Agency (FSA) are eligible, which includes cereals and other grasses, legumes, brassicas and other non-legume broadleaves, and mixtures of two or more cover crop species planted at the same time. For more information see FSA Handbook 2-CP.

What acres are eligible for the program?

Eligible acres are those with insured crops for the 2022 crop year where a cover crop was planted after June 15, 2021.

The program covers insured acres planted to a qualifying cover crop during the 2022 crop year. To receive the benefit for this program, the cover crop acreage must have been reported to FSA on a Report of Acreage form (FSA-578) by March 15, 2022, which is distinct from the normal acreage reporting date. The cover crop fields reported on the Report of Acreage form must match what the producer reported to their insurance company for crop insurance policies. This form should be filed with your local FSA county office. Producers can find contact information for their local office at farmers.gov/service-locator.

What if I plant my 2022 crop year qualifying cover crop after the March 15, 2022, deadline?

Producers who plant a 2022 crop year qualifying cover crop after the March 15, 2022, deadline will have until May 31, 2022, to file a Report of Acreage form (FSA-578) with their cover crops identified with FSA. 

How is the premium support amount calculated?

The premium support is up to $5 per acre, but no more than the full premium owed, and may be adjusted based on share. The benefit cannot exceed the number of cover crop acres or insured acres by field, and the benefit cannot be applied to other acres. However, if the premium support equals or exceeds the full premium owed by the producer, a $1 producer premium per acreage report line (typically a unique crop/type/practice combination) will be required.

How will producers receive the premium support?

The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) will calculate the amount of premium support when calculating total producer premium due. Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) will adjust participant bills accordingly.

Why did the premium support amount on my bill change?

The premium support amount determined by FCIC for the 2022 crop year can fluctuate until October 6, 2023. When the premium support amount changes, AIPs may send out revised billing statements. Some reasons why the premium support amount could change include:

  • The premium support amount has been redistributed across one or more policies that insure the same qualifying land.
  • Acres or other relevant acreage data has changed on the producer’s policy or another producer’s policy who also insures the same qualifying land.
  • Delayed transmission of the acreage reports on the producer’s policy or another producer’s policy who also insures the same qualifying land.

How do I sign up?

No sign-up is required. To be eligible to receive the benefit you must report qualifying cover crops on the Report of Acreage form (FSA-578) by March 15, 2022, or by May 31, 2022, for 2022 crop year qualifying cover crops planted after March 15, 2022.

What is the deadline to have my cover crops reported on the Report of Acreage form (FSA-578) and participate in PCCP?

March 15, 2022, or May 31, 2022, for 2022 crop year qualifying cover crops planted after March 15, 2022. You still have until the normal acreage reporting date at FSA to report your cover crops, however any cover crop acreage reported after March 15, 2022 (or May 31, 2022, for 2022 crop year qualifying cover crops planted after March 15, 2022) will not receive a PCCP benefit.

Does this change the acreage reporting date for crop insurance or any other insurance program rules?

No, your acreage reporting date, reporting requirements, and all other terms of your policy are unaffected by PCCP. The program simply pays a portion of your premium on your behalf.

Do I need to give my FSA-578 to my agent?

No, but providing a copy to ensure your fields match on your crop insurance acreage report is advised. You will only receive the benefit if the fields match on both acreage reports.

What if I report my crop insurance acreage using precision ag instead of a CLU?

Producers who report insured acreage using custom field boundaries (known as RLUs) can still receive the benefit on the portion of acreage that overlaps the CLUs reported with cover crops.

Is this program only for a single year?

This is the second crop year that PCCP is being offered. PCCP in 2022:

  • Continues to cover over-winter cover crops for spring insured crops and will now also include summer cover for 2022 crop year fall insured crops.
  • Is now available to producers with Whole-Farm Revenue Protection.
  • Includes a supplemental match for state cover crop programs, if applicable.

RMA will notify producers through an announcement if the program is offered in future years.

How do I file the Report of Acreage form?

To receive the PCCP premium benefit, producers must report their cover crops on the Report of Acreage form (FSA-578) with their local USDA Service Center. The first step is to contact your local Service Center and make an appointment.

Because of the pandemic, some Service Centers are open to limited visitors. Service Center staff continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email, and other digital tools. Many FSA offices are using Microsoft Teams software to virtually meet with producers to review maps and documents for certification.

As part of filing the Report of Acreage, you will need to provide:

  • cover crop type or variety;
  • number of acres of the cover crop;
  • map with approximate boundaries for the cover crop;
  • planting date(s);
  • planting pattern, when applicable;
  • producer shares; and
  • irrigation practice(s).

Do acres that receive a prevented planting claim also receive PCCP benefits?

Yes, for the PCCP, insured acres are what qualifies, not planted acres only.

Will Catastrophic Risk Protection (CAT) polices be eligible for PCCP?

PCCP reduces the premium that producers owe. Because CAT policies do not have producer premium, there would be no premium to further reduce with the PCCP.

Will I receive the full benefit if I only have a share in the insured crop?

No. FCIC will attempt to allocate the benefit by share for the insured acres. For example, if you and another insured producer each have a 50% share, you both will receive half of the $5/acre benefit, up to the full premium owed for that acreage.

Example: I have a 50% share in a field with 100 insured acres of corn. 80 acres in the field are reported to FSA as cover crop. The land’s maximum eligible PCCP benefit is 80 acres x $5 = $400. My eligible benefit is $400 x 50% share = $200, up to my premium owed for the acreage, and the other insured producer’s eligible benefit is $400 x 50% share = $200, up to their premium owed for the acreage.

NOTE: If you have 100% share in a cover cropped field/CLU, you reported that cover crop to FSA, and you insure a spring crop on that field/CLU, you will receive the land’s maximum eligible PCCP benefit, up to the amount of producer premium you owe on that field (less $1; see “How is the premium support amount calculated?” above). See the questions below for additional clarification on partially planted or partially insured fields.

Will I receive the full benefit if I only have a share in the insured crop and the producer with the remaining shares did not plant or report a cover crop?

No. PCCP is a land-based program and FCIC will attempt to allocate the benefit by share for the insured acres.

Example: I have a 50% share in a field with 100 insured acres of corn. I report 80 cover crop acres to FSA, and the other insured producer with 50% share does not report cover crop acres to FSA. The land’s maximum eligible PCCP benefit is 80 acres x $5 = $400. The benefit will be allocated by share for the insured acres, so the other insured producer and I are both eligible for $400 x 50% share = $200, up to our premium owed for the acreage.

Will I receive the full benefit if I planted and reported a cover crop in a subfield and producers who planted on other parts of the field did not plant or report a cover crop?

No, FCIC will attempt to allocate the benefit by share of insured acreage for the Common Land Unit (CLU), up to the amount available for the number of cover crop acreage reported in the CLU. At this time benefits cannot be allocated at the subfield or producer level. For example, if you share a field (CLU) with another person 50/50, and you plant your half with cover, the benefit will not exclusively be allocated to your portion of the field or your policy. In cases where a field is partially planted with cover and you do not have 100% share in the crop, we recommend you make private arrangements with other shareholders on how the benefit is to be allocated, as it may not be reflected on your insurance bill as you otherwise may expect.

Example: I have a 50% share in a field (CLU) made up of subfields A and B. I plant and report 50 cover crop acres on subfield A followed by 50 planted insured acres of corn. The other insured producer does not plant a cover crop on subfield B but does plant 50 insured acres of soybeans. The benefit cannot be allocated at the subfield or producer level, so the land’s maximum eligible PCCP benefit is 50 acres x $5 = $250 in the CLU. The benefit will be allocated by share for the insured CLU acres, so the other producer and I are both eligible for $250 x 50% share = $125, up to our premium owed. However, depending on the timing when acreage is reported and if the other producer and I have different insurance companies, all $250 could be allocated to one policy and zero on the other. In that case, I should make private arrangements with the other producer to allocate the benefits equitably.

How will the benefit work with Whole Farm Revenue Protection since I do not report acres by CLU?

Whole Farm policies will receive the benefit slightly differently than other policies. For Whole Farm only, the benefit will be aggregated for all acres of cover crops planted for the policy holder, regardless of CLU. For example, if you plant and report to FSA 300 acres of cover crops across 10 different fields, you will receive up to $1500 (300 x $5) of PCCP benefit off your Whole Farm policy, depending on total premium owed and share. This can be in addition to any PCCP benefit received on an underlying crop policy.

Does acreage insured under the Annual Forage program qualify as a cover crop?

No, crops insured as Annual Forage do not qualify as cover crops. 

How will the supplemental match program for state programs work?

It can vary by state. However, in most cases the amount of cover crop subsidy the state provides will be supplemented dollar-for-dollar by PCCP. For example, if the state provides $5.00 per acre, then for each matching acre, the producer will receive $5.00 from the state, $5.00 from the PCCP ‘match’, and $5 from the PCCP ‘base’, for a total of up to $15 per acre, depending on premium owed and share. State cover crop subsidy and any PCCP ‘match’ will be applied to producer premium due on an acreage report line after the standard FCIC premium subsidy and before the PCCP support.