Mike Halpin

ROCK ISLAND – State Senator Mike Halpin is sponsoring legislation that would expand the cover crops discount program to cover up to 500,000 acres of farmland.

“The cover crops program is extremely popular and good for the environment,” said Halpin (D-Rock Island). “It makes sense to expand a program that will keep our soil healthy for generations to come.”

This Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Crop Insurance Rebate Initiative is offered to landowners with additional acres of cover crops that are not covered by other state and federal program incentives. Eligible applicants receive a premium discount up to a $5 per acre on the following year's crop insurance, depending on their crop insurance policy, for every cover crop acre enrolled and verified in the program.

In 2023, the program covered up to 160,000 acres with $666,000 budgeted for the rebates. To expand the program, Halpin is co-sponsoring Senate Bill 3814, which would increase the funding to $3.1 million and allow the program to fund up to 500,000 acres. There are around one million acres planted with cover crops throughout the state, so this expansion would be significant victory for a popular program.

"Cover crops improve soil health by providing a wide range of benefits including reduced erosion, reduced compaction and absorption of nutrients,” said Knox County Farm Bureau Executive Director Hailey Hennenfent. “They also serve as a key climate-smart agricultural practice."

Halpin will continue pushing to advance the measure through Senate Bill 3814 and in budget negotiations over the coming weeks.