Keep in mind that Tuesday, Sept. 30 is the deadline to sign up for crop insurance coverage on winter wheat and forage crops insurable according to USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA). You need to do this in order to participate in USDA's new Supplemental Revenue (SURE) program for 2009.
Fall seeded crops not insurable through RMA, which can include winter wheat and forage crops, must be covered by NAP (Non-insured Assistance Program). The deadline for obtaining NAP coverage is Dec. 1 on fall seeded crops. If you want SURE disaster protection on corn and soybean crops next year, you need to sign up your fall-seeded crops that are insurable, for crop insurance by the end of the day on Sept. 30, 2008.
"All insurable and non-insurable crops you produce on your farm must be covered by either private crop insurance or the NAP (Non-insured Assistance Program) offered by USDA if you want to be eligible for SURE," explains Kevin McClure, program specialist at the state office of USDA's Farm Service Agency in Des Moines. "SURE is designed to supplement the protection farmers can purchase from private crop insurance companies and the NAP from FSA."
SURE is USDA's new crop disaster protection program, created as part of the 2008 Farm Bill passed by Congress earlier this year. SURE replaces the ad hoc disaster programs that used to come along each time widespread crop production problems arose in areas of the country.
All crops you produce must be covered
"Farmers should contact their crop insurance agent regarding what crops need to be insured. But likely alfalfa, clover and mixed forage stands that are less than 5 years old are insurable in many counties," says Steve Johnson, an Iowa State University Extension farm management specialist. "Farmers need to understand that to participate in SURE for 2009, should a crop loss occur, all insurable crops must be covered if you are to collect a SURE payment."
If you fail to sign up for crop insurance on your fall-planted crops, you will not be protected under SURE for your corn and soybeans the next summer, even if you buy crop insurance for those spring-planted crops.
NAP deadline is Dec. 1 for fall seeded crops
To be eligible for the SURE program in 2009, all non-insurable fall seeded crops must be covered by a NAP policy. "The deadline to obtain a NAP policy for fall seeded crops is Dec. 1, 2008," notes McClure. "Spring seeded crops that are non-insurable must be covered by a NAP policy no later than March 15, 2009. All crops to be harvested in 2009 that cannot be insured with private crop insurance will require you to purchase NAP coverage at your local county FSA office. This includes pasture, uninsurable forages and specialty crops. The charges for NAP coverage in 2009 will be $250 per crop, maximum of $750 per county and multi-county producers should not pay more than $1,875."
Another new USDA program, called Average Crop Revenue Election or ACRE, that begins in 2009 will likely require 2008 yields that are "quantifiable and verifiable" by FSA farm number. In other words, you will have to prove your yields by FSA farm number. "Farmers should now be thinking about how they will 'prove net production' by crop by farm annually," says Johnson. "They need to begin keeping those records at harvest this fall."
Keep records to prove yield at harvest
"You should start this fall at harvest by noting the farm name and specific field on the scale tickets when delivering grain," he advises. "The exact requirements for 'proving your yields' will likely not be known until this winter, when FSA will likely finalize the rules and announce them. However, the potential for electing to enroll in the ACRE program in 2009 should crop prices decline in subsequent years will have great merit. So you should get started keeping good yield records this fall—if you aren't already doing this."
ACRE payments will be based on a shortfall that occurs annually by comparing the actual revenue farmers get to the state revenue guarantee (5-year Olympic average yields times the 2-year national average price).
"Again, you should understand that no regulations are finalized yet for either SURE or ACRE by the Farm Service Agency. However, national training for FSA is scheduled for the week of Oct. 6," notes Johnson.