USDA strengthens crop insurance policies, includes dry beans, dry peas and wheat

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Ag News

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making improvements to crop insurance to better enable agricultural producers to manage risk on their operations. 

Specifically, USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) is adding new options for producers of dry beans, dry peas and small grains, such as wheat, as well as making other adjustments that make crop insurance more accessible for organic producers and veteran farm families.

RMA is making these changes through three final rules, which posted recently on the Federal Register.

“RMA is focused on how we can make crop insurance a better risk management tool for producers,” said RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy.  “We’re rolling out a suite of updates based on feedback from producers and agricultural organizations that strengthen coverage options and increase consistency, clarity and flexibility. These updates will benefit producers of dry beans, dry peas, and small grains, veteran farm families, and organic producers in the certification process.”

Dry beans and dry peas

Beginning in 2022, the dry beans and dry peas regulation will:

  • Allow enterprise and optional units by type for dry beans and dry peas, preventing a gain on one type of crop from impacting an indemnity for a loss on another type.  Enterprise units by type allow a producer to insure all acres of a type in a county as one unit, as opposed to basic and optional units which may base insurance on a portion of the acreage.  Enterprise units are attractive to producers due to additional premium discounts provided given risk is diversified across the county.
  • Also, allow enterprise and optional units for dry beans to be insured by written agreement, which is consistent with current provisions for dry peas.

Clarify that if no insurable fall planted acreage exists, the later spring sales closing date would apply in counties that have offers for both the fall and spring-planted types.

Small grains

Beginning in 2022, the small grains regulation will:

  • Allow enterprise units by type for wheat.  Similar to dry beans and dry peas, this change will prevent a gain on one type of crop from impacting an indemnity for a loss on another type. 
  • Allow optional units for Khorasan type wheat.  Currently, optional units by type are available for all types insured, except for Khorasan.

Other amendments

RMA gathered feedback on the Area Risk Protection Insurance (ARPI) Regulations and Common Crop Insurance Policy (CCIP) Basic Provisions in 2020.  Based on input, RMA issued a regulation to update the ARPI Regulations and CCIP Basic Provisions, beginning in 2022, that will:

  • Revise the definition of “veteran farmer or rancher” to allow a married couple to be considered a veteran farmer or rancher, even if one spouse is not a veteran.  (ARPI Regulations and CCIP Basic Provisions)
  • Allow a producer to report acreage as certified organic, or as acreage in transition to organic, when the producer certifies that they have requested, in writing, a written certification or other written documentation from a certifying agent on or before the acreage reporting date.  RMA allowed this flexibility during the pandemic, but certification is a challenge in normal years.  Adding relief to the policy provides permanent flexibility. 

Public comments

RMA is accepting comments for 60 days each on these changes on all three rules: Dry beans and dry peas, small grains, and ARPI Regulations and CCIP Basic Provisions. 

Additionally, on the Small Grains Regulation, RMA is inviting comments on whether to allow replanting payments in situations where damage occurs prior to the fall final planting date in counties where winter and spring small grains coverage is available.

Comments can be made through regulations.gov or by mail.