IBF has regularly pressed Delaware governors over the years to fully fund the cover crop program for the state’s farmers. IBF’s view is cover crops increase farmers’ yields and reduce DNREC’s costs to mitigate nitrate and phosphorus pollution. The program is supported by DNREC, the Sussex County Conservation District and the Farm Bureau. It is cost effective for the state as there is Federal matching funding (60/40).
Delaware Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse was the featured speaker at its June 2019 meeting. Secretary Scuse said there was a nearly 60 percent increase to $2.9 million in the state’s current budget, which should be enough to plant 70,000 acres. There are 530,000 acres of eligible farmland statewide and low funding has hurt the program in the past.
Asked if the cover crop program provides benefits equal to its cost, the Secretary indicated he did believe so as the program recycles soil nutrients leading to an increase in biomass and the restoration of soil health. The ensuing discussion was greatly aided by insights from the members of the Delaware Farm Bureau and agriculture community who also attended.
Secretary Scuse works with Soil Districts and the Farm Bureau to get the word out on the value of cover crops. IBF will work on an article for the press about the role of cover crops in supporting clean water and the environment and other outreach to publicize to the public about the benefits of the cover crop program.