The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) will host an important 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 2:00 and 3:30 pm EST.
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.
About the Webinar Speakers:
Dr. Rob Myers currently serves as Regional Director of Extension Programs for the USDA North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Dr. Myers administers competitive grants for extension funding and also state extension programs on sustainable agriculture across the 12-state North Central Region. He is based at University of Missouri – Columbia, where he has held an appointment as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Plant Science since 2001. He also currently holds a special honorary appointment as an Endowed Chair of Agricultural Systems through the University of Minnesota, where he obtained M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in agronomy. His research and extension expertise is in alternative cropping systems, including the use of cover crops.
Tim Hoffmann is Director of the Product Administration and Standards Division with the USDA, Federal Crop Insurance Corporation/Risk Management Agency (RMA) in Kansas City, MO. For the past 24 years Tim has been responsible for overseeing the development, modification, and maintenance of RMA policies, regulations, loss adjustment, and underwriting standards for a Nationwide program providing risk management products for America’s farmers and ranchers. Additionally, Tim is responsible for the coordination, review, analysis, and recommendation for approval or rejection of privately developed products and concept proposals submitted to the FCIC Board of Directors as either alternative or supplemental products.
Norm Widman, National Agronomist, has worked for USDA NRCS for over 40 years. He has held a variety of posts, including District Conservationist, Area and State Agronomist, State Resource Conservationist, and Regional Agronomist. Norm is a graduate of the Ohio State University with degrees in Agronomy and Military Science and a native of Northern Ohio, where he grew up on a crop, dairy, and swine farm.
Jeff Schahczenski is Agriculture Policy and Development Director with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). His expertise lies in organic and sustainable agriculture economics, conservation policy, and crop insurance. Before moving to Montana in 1991, Jeff worked for Rutgers University, started one of the first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms in New Jersey, received graduate degrees in agricultural economics and political science, served in the Peace Corps in Belize, and worked many summers on his grandfather’s dairy farm in Wisconsin.
Since 1976, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has been helping people by championing small-scale, local and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty, promote healthy communities and protect natural resources. In partnership with businesses, organizations, individuals and agricultural producers, NCAT is working to advance solutions that will ensure the next generation inherits a world that has clean air and water, energy production that is efficient and renewable, and healthy foods grown with sustainable practices. More information about its programs and services is available at www.ncat.org or by calling 1-800-ASK-NCAT.