America’s agricultural communities are on the frontlines crafting solutions to address climate change and improve the environment. RMA is supporting conservation-minded farmers and ranchers by creating new and improving insurance options for producers. Whether it’s the use of cover crops, water management for quality and quantity, methods to improve nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration, or other climate-smart practices, the right crop insurance products and programs can serve as a strong foundation for your agricultural operation.
To further encourage farmers and ranchers to integrate conservation and climate-smart practices, RMA recently released an updated Good Farming Practices handbook. This updated handbook recognizes all conservation practices offered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as Good Farming Practices in crop insurance. In the updated handbook, NRCS is recognized as an agricultural expert resource for cover crop management systems.
This update means producers can have peace of mind that using conservation practices will not impact their crop insurance. RMA is supporting stewardship-minded producers and crop insurance agents selling insurance with clearer, simpler policy around conservation practices.
Producers should reach out to their USDA service center to find a local NRCS office.
- Post Application Coverage Endorsement
In crop year 2022, RMA introduced the Post Application Coverage Endorsement (PACE) to help corn farmers improve water quality while gaining efficiencies and reducing costs by specifically supporting the practice of “split application.” In this case, nitrogen is used in more targeted amounts over multiple applications, rather than one large application. The sales closing date is March 15.
- Cover Crops
RMA has taken many steps to support the use of cover crops. They are proven to reduce erosion, improve water quality, and increase the health and productivity of the soil while building resilience to climate change.
In 2021, RMA introduced the new Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP), which provided premium support for producers with crop insurance who maintain cover crop systems during the pandemic. Also in 2021, RMA updated its policy to allow producers with crop insurance to hay, graze or chop cover crops at any time and still receive 100 percent of the prevented planting payment.
- Irrigation Efficiency
By improving irrigation efficiency, agricultural producers can save input costs while conserving water. USDA helps farmers and ranchers manage excess water, conserve limited supplies of water, and build resilience to mitigate drought on their land and in their community.
This includes through Federal crop insurance, where RMA works on national, regional, and state levels to address concerns and challenges of water conservation and support practices that help promote irrigation efficiency and climate-smart practices that also benefit the producer and their operation.
- RMA Climate Adaptation Plan
In October 2021, USDA released its Department-wide Action Plan for Climate Adaptation and Resilience that describes how USDA will integrate climate adaptation into its mission, programs, and operations. The plan, an update to the 2014 Adaptation Plan, identifies key vulnerabilities to the effects of climate change in USDA’s mission and establishes a framework for addressing these impacts across the Department.
In 2022, RMA finalized the RMA Climate Change Adaptation Plan, an agency-specific plan that identifies and prioritizes climate vulnerabilities and actions to integrate climate change into its programs, operations and decision-making. The plan provides a framework organized around 18 main action areas (A - R):
A. Implement Incentives to Encourage Cover Crop Planting
B. Implement Incentives to Encourage Smart Water Use
C. Implement Incentives to Encourage Other Climate Smart Practices
D. Continue Updating Program Premium Rates to Reflect Changes in Risk Due to Climate Change
E. Continue Updating Program Yields to Reflect Changes in Output Due to Climate Change
F. Continue Updating Program Dates to Reflect Changes in Agronomic Practices to Climate Change
G. Continue Updating Program Map Areas to Reflect Changes in Risk Due to Climate Change
H. Continue Updating Program Availability and Procedures to Reflect New Growing Areas and Agronomic Practices Due to Climate Change
I. Improve Production Reporting to Enhance Yield Data Quality for Research and Program Support
J. Conduct Research on the Impact of Conservation Practices on Yield and Risk
K. Support Climate Literacy Among Agents and AIPs
L. Specialty Crop Outreach
M. Promote Whole Farm Revenue Protection to Support Crop Diversification to Reduce Risk
N. Support Private Submitters on Expansion of the Climate-Smart Products
O. Engage USDA Climate Hubs for Product Development
P. Maintain a 100% Telework-Ready Workforce
Q. Support Cloud-Based IT Processing
R. Maintain Network of Regional Offices to Respond to Unique, Geographic-Centric Issues