HEADLINES & MEDIA
Effective for the 2010 Crop Year, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) is offering insurance coverage based on contract prices for all practices of certain specialty types of barley (as reflected in the Special Provisions of Insurance). Specialty barley includes malting, waxy hulled, waxy hulless, and hulless types, available in all MPCI barley counties in Idaho, Oregon and Washington except the seven counties with a fall sales closing date for winter damage protection on winter barley. Those seven counties: Cassia, Nez Perce and Payette of Idaho; and Wasco and Umatilla of Oregon; and Klickitat and Yakima of Washington, will have this new coverage for specialty barley types for the 2011 crop year.
USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), which administers the Federal crop insurance program, has released a second draft of a proposed new Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA), which establishes the terms, roles, and responsibilities for both the USDA and insurance companies that participate in the Federal crop insurance program. The first draft was released Dec. 4, 2009. The new draft includes a series of significant changes, including many discussed during negotiations between the RMA and the participating crop insurance companies.
It wasn’t a bumper wheat crop, but the yields were respectable nonetheless. In some cases, in fact, they were darn good, beating out county averages. In something of an ironic twist, however, crop insurance was the icing on the cake. Bottom line, crop insurance is making up what farmers lost in the price of wheat, even though many of the costs associated with growing and harvesting the crop didn’t fall as far as prices did. Crop insurance payments for 2009, so far, are a relatively low $271.2 million statewide
In the face of a ballooning federal deficit, Uncle Sam will come to the rescue of Florida farmers struggling to recover from last month’s brutal freezing weather. ”This will certainly help,” said David Boozer, executive director of the Florida Tropical Fish Farm Association Inc. in Winter Haven, responding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently designating 60 Florida counties as federal disaster areas. The list includes Polk and every neighboring county. The declaration opens up several low-interest loan programs to freeze-stricken farmers in those counties. Tropical fish farmers centered in Hillsborough and Polk counties suffered the biggest losses from the record-breaking streak of cold weather that hit most of the state in the first two weeks of the year. Boozer estimated a 75 percent loss of Florida’s tropical fish stocks.
Crop insurers say USDA’s proposed funding cuts to its crop-insurance program will cause their industry to downsize and shed jobs. USDA’s Risk Management Agency introduced a proposal in December for altering the agreement by which insurers deliver government-backed crop insurance. National Crop Insurance Services, an industry association, released its counter-proposal on Jan. 20, along with a critique of the cuts that RMA wants. ”The industry is deeply concerned with RMA’s initial draft of the 2011 (Standard Reinsurance Agreement) and is proposing a number of changes to reduce the highly detrimental impacts of the RMA proposal,” the association said in a statement.
A proposed $4 billion cut over five years to the USDA crop-insurance program’s contracting agreement with private insurance companies has prompted 10 commodity organizations to express their concerns in writing to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. USDA’s crop-insurance contracting agreement is called the Standard Reinsurance Agreement. The draft reduction the USDA is considering would be in addition to last year’s cut of $6.4 billion over 10 years and another $1.7 billion in cuts to other components of the farm safety net, the commodity coalition said in its letter. The organizations urged Vilsack “to promulgate an [agreement] that does not undermine the important gains made in crop insurance since… 2000, but instead further strengthens available risk management protections and broadens meaningful access.”