USDA expands crop insurance for fruit, nut producers

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, July 23, 2014 - Building on provisions contained in the 2014 farm bill, USDA plans to expand crop insurance options for fruit and nut producers next year. Both the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) and the Actual Production History (APH) Yield Exclusion will be available to cover fresh fruit and nuts in select counties beginning with the 2016 crop year.

Risk Management Agency (RMA) Administrator Brandon Willis says he expects this announcement could catch a few people by surprise - in a positive way - because the agency has worked hard to get these new options up and running.

“This demonstrates our commitment to make sure that crop insurance works for all farmers in all regions of the U.S.,” Willis told Agri-Pulse.

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Currently, there are 542 crops and types of production covered by federal crop insurance. The number of net acres insured has climbed steadily from 265,118 in 2011 to 296,663 acres in 2014. The 2015 enrollment numbers have not yet been completed.

SCO will now be available in select counties for almonds, apples, blueberries, grapes, peaches, potatoes, prunes, safflower, tomatoes and walnuts for the 2016 crop year. Grapefruit, lemons, mandarins/tangerines, oranges, and tangelos will be eligible for coverage beginning with the 2017 crop year. This is in addition to the alfalfa seed, canola, cultivated wild rice, dry peas, forage production, grass seed, mint, oats, onions, potatoes and rye that were recently made available for 2016 as well. Currently, SCO covers corn, cotton, cottonseed, grain sorghum, rice, soybeans, spring barley, spring wheat and winter wheat in selected counties.

SCO is an area-based policy endorsement that can be purchased to supplement an underlying crop insurance policy. It covers a portion of losses not covered by the same crop's underlying policy. USDA's Risk Management Agency, which administers the federal crop insurance program, has posted information on the expanded program, including where SCO is available by crop and county, on its website.

Producers of apples, blueberries, grapes, peaches, potatoes, prunes, safflower, tomatoes and walnuts in select counties will have the option to elect the APH Yield Exclusion for the 2016 crop year. Producers of grapefruit, lemons, mandarins/tangerines, oranges, and tangelos will have the option to elect the APH Yield Exclusion for the 2017 crop year. Alfalfa seed, cultivated wild rice, dry peas, forage production, oats, onions, rye and winter wheat are also eligible in certain counties beginning with the 2016 crop year. These are in addition to barley, canola, corn, cotton, grain sorghum, peanuts, popcorn, rice, soybeans, sunflowers and spring wheat, which were offered beginning in the 2015 crop year.

The APH Yield Exclusion allows farmers with qualifying crops in eligible counties to exclude low yields in exceptionally bad years (such as a year in which a natural disaster or an extreme weather event occurs) from their production history when calculating yields used to establish their crop insurance coverage. Crop years are eligible for exclusion when the average per planted acreage yield for the county was at least 50 percent below the simple average for the previous 10 consecutive crop years. The exclusion will allow eligible producers to receive a higher approved yield on their insurance policies through the federal crop insurance program.

Producers also have access to new online tools designed to help them determine the options that work best for their operations. The Crop Insurance Decision Tool and the SCO/APH Yield Exclusion mapping tool, available online, provide farmers with information on APH Yield Exclusion and SCO eligible crops, crop years, and counties where they may elect the programs. USDA says this user-friendly resource can help producers quickly explore and understand available coverage options. Users will get general estimates to help them make purchasing decisions. Producers should consult their crop insurance agent for detailed information and an actual premium quote.

A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the Risk Management Agency' agent locator. Growers can use the agency's cost estimator to get a premium amount estimate of their insurance needs online. Visit the Risk Management Agency website to learn more about SCO and APH Yield Exclusion.

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