Prevented planting insurance claims could easily set a record this year despite lower limits on coverage imposed by the Agriculture Department because of concerns that growers were being overpaid in the past.
An insurance policy created to help diversified operations, specialty crop growers and small farms better manage their risk has slipped in popularity over the past two years, but advocates say a series of changes USDA is making in the program could reverse the decline.
Agriculture Department officials expect farmers to file more than $1 billion in insurance claims for acreage they were unable to plant due to the succession of storms across the Midwest and Mississippi River valley this spring.
The Trump administration’s announcement of a new trade assistance package, plus congressional agreement on disaster relief for prevented plantings, will put billions of dollars into the struggling farm economy, but the prospective aid is injecting new uncertainty into the planting decisions facing growers across the soggy Plains and Midwest.
Lawmakers reached agreement on a $19.1 billion disaster package Thursday that was expanded to include payments for producers who are unable to plant their crops this year as well as to growers whose stored corn and soybeans were damaged by flooding.
Less than three months after signing the 2018 farm bill, President Donald Trump proposed a fiscal 2020 budget that would reopen the law to slash crop insurance and tighten commodity program eligibility limits while making deep cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Advocates for dairy farmers pressed USDA officials at a farm bill listening session to move quickly to get payments to financially strapped producers, while other groups urged the department to put a priority on removing barriers to cover crops and scheduling signups for major conservation programs.