As the linchpin of the farm safety net, crop insurance has continued to grow as producers look for protection against unpredictable weather. But fruit and vegetable growers, or farmers with diversified operations, have in the past had few insurance options designed for them.
On Wednesday, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that would change with the roll out of the new Whole-Farm Revenue Protection program, which is scheduled to pilot in selected counties.
Whole-Farm insurance allows farmers to insure all crops on their farm at once, rather than insuring commodity by commodity, USDA said.
"Providing farmers the option to insure their whole farm at once gives farmers more flexibility, promotes crop diversity, and helps support the production of healthy fruits and vegetables," Vilsack said in a released statement. "More flexibility also empowers farmers and ranchers to make a broader range of decisions with their land, helping them succeed and strengthening our agriculture economy."
Traditionally, many fruit and vegetable crops have not had crop insurance programs designed for them, which USDA says makes it less attractive for a farmer that primarily plants wheat or corn to use another part of his or her land for growing fruits, vegetables or other specialty crops.
Whole-Farm insurance details
Introduced with the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, the new Whole-Farm option is intended for broad adoption among specialty crop, organic, and diversified growers.
The policy offers coverage levels from 50% to 85% and recognizes farm diversification through qualification for the highest coverage levels, along with premium rate discounts for multiple crop diversification.
It's available to farms with production and revenue history, including five years of historic farm tax records.
Related: Focusing On Small and Mid-size Farms
The policy also includes a Market Readiness Feature, as outlined in the farm bill, which allows costs such as washing, trimming, and packaging to be left in the insured revenue instead of having to adjust those amounts out of the insured amount, USDA said.
The new Whole-Farm Revenue Protection policy combines Adjusted Gross Revenue and AGR-Lite along with several improvements to target diversified farms and farms selling two to five commodities, including specialty crops, to wholesale markets.
As part of the pilot, Whole-Farm Revenue Protection will be available where AGR and AGR-Lite are currently offered, and will expand to other counties as data are available for underwriting and actuarial ratemaking.
RMA will release information on the policy later this summer when it becomes available. Additional information is on the RMA website.
News source: USDA