Small producers to be aided by new crop insurance

Farm Forum

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Small farmers and ranchers in North Dakota who once were unable to insure their crops will get a chance to do so in 2015 under a new insurance program.

Small and mid-size producers will be able to insure all of their crops, including cattle and other livestock, under one policy, the Bismarck Tribune reported. The provisions come under the new federal Whole-Farm Revenue Protection program.

The program protects producers against low revenue caused by natural disasters and market fluctuations during the insurance year. Among those benefited by the program are small organic, specialty crop and vegetable growers, such as those who sell their products at farmers markets.

“It gives those people access who didn’t have it before,” said Doug Goehring, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner. He added that the new program does not follow traditional rules and guidelines.

The insurance program works off revenue instead of production, insuring against the farms’ adjusted gross revenue. The revenue basis for coverage for each producer will be based on the producer’s historical tax information or an annual report, whichever is lower, and will guarantee a set amount of revenue for the insurance period.

Coverage levels could range from 50 to 85 percent with a maximum coverage cap of $8.5 million. Some producers will be eligible for subsidies, and Goehring said, farmers with a wider diversity of crops will pay less of a premium.

Producers will only be required to buy one plan. Insurers typically require producers to buy a policy for each crop.

“That gives them the option of promoting crop diversity and helps support the production of a wider variety of healthy foods,” said Brandon Willis the administrator for the Risk Management Agency at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.