Conservation and Crop Insurance Task Force

AGree’s Conservation and Crop Insurance Task Force is harnessing the power of big data improve farmers’ profitability and environmental outcomes.

As the manager of the AGree Conservation and Crop Insurance Task Force (Task Force), Meridian connects leaders across diverse sectors to build trust, develop creative solutions, and take legislative and regulatory action. Task Force members include: farmers; researchers; former U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) leadership; and representatives from farmer-based, environmental, and conservation NGOs.

During 2018 Farm Bill negotiations, the Task Force advocated for provisions regarding agricultural data and cover crops; both topics were included in the final text. The bill directs the USDA to investigate the creation of an ag data warehouse where data collected from farmers across the department can be accessed by qualified researchers—while protecting farmer privacy. This data is key to studying the impacts of conservation practices on crop yields, farm and ranch profitability, and environmental outcomes.

Since farm bill passage, the Task Force has worked to strengthen USDA guidance on cover crops, which are important for soil health and water quality. Previously, a farmer’s crop insurance coverage could be jeopardized by planting a cover crop, even though this practice can reduce risk. The Task Force met with USDA, advocated for support on Capitol Hill, and pushed for guidance that doesn’t disincentivize cover crop use. We are pleased that as of July 2019, USDA guidance has clarified this!

To make these important policy changes a reality, AGree used the Meridian Implementation Fund, a separate 501(c)4 organization that supports lobbying efforts. Task Force recommendations were introduced as stand-alone legislation after we educated members of Congress about these issues, and we fought hard to keep them in the Farm Bill. We have also made use of strategic communications to support our policy efforts, including advertising in ag media, op-ed placement, and social media amplification.