USDA announces more price options, elections for organic producers

By Whitney Forman-Cook

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2015 - USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced Wednesday that it would offer expanded price options and elections on organic crops in 2016, helping organic producers purchase higher crop insurance policies.

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"Expanding the farm safety net for organic producers helps build sustainable growth for the industry and keeps farmers on their land even after bad weather causes losses to their yield or market price of their crop," RMA Administrator Brandon Willis said in a release.

According to RMA, increasing the number of crops with organic price premiums and expanding the contract price option will give organic farmers more opportunities to secure higher revenue or yield protection insurance policies.

Price elections will now be available on 47 crops, including: barley, cabbage, cranberries, cultivated wild rice, dry peas, forage production (with the inclusion of alfalfa in select states), grass seed, onions (fresh onions in select states), potatoes, processing clingstone peaches, rye, sugarcane, safflower and wheat. And will be expanded for organic avocadoes, blueberries and pears to more states and counties.

Beginning in 2017, organic price elections for citrus crops in Arizona and California will also be available for grapefruit, lemons, mandarins, oranges and tangelos.

The contract price option will now be available for 73 different crop types. RMA will evaluate contract price limits against the experience data available, and some crops will have a higher limit to reflect the greater price premium that may be obtained for the certified organic practice. Producers who are transitioning to certified organic will also have the ability to use the contract price option beginning in 2016, the agency said.

Laura Batcha, the CEO and executive director for the Organic Trade Association, thanked USDA for expanding crop insurance coverage for organic farmers in a statement following RMA's announcement.

These changes have been strongly advocated for by the OTA and OTA's Farmers Advisory Council in order to provide better and more equitable protection for organic producers,” Batcha said. “The expanded coverage better reflects the unique needs of organic farmers who receive a premium price for their crops and who often sell their crops at a contract price.”

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