USDA adjusts organic insurance program
Adjustments to crop insurance programs will better reflect the value of organic farm products, the director of the Spokane office of the USDA Risk Management Agency says.
“One of the complaints we’d always get is producers (would say), ‘I raise this organic crop because I can get more for it,’ but our prices weren’t representative, they felt, of the organic prices,” said Dave Paul, RMA director in Spokane.
Paul said the agency continues to tailor organic provisions of policies to better meet producers’ needs.
For the 2014 crop year, the agency eliminated a 5 percent premium surcharge for organic crops.
For many commodities, RMA is publishing transitional yields for organic practices for growers who don’t have enough records to establish coverage on their own.
“We’re trying to use the data that’s available to make the organic crop insurance program represent the organic industry, versus a mixture of conventional and organic,” Paul said.
For many crops, RMA is now publishing specific price elections for organics alongside conventional prices. This includes crops like mint, blueberries, grapes, apples, pears and other stone fruit crops, oats, corn and soybeans.
“Producers who want to insure their organics at a higher price can do so for those different commodities,” Paul said.
The agency has added a contract price addendum for organic producers growing crops under guaranteed contracts. The addendum allows organic farmers who receive a contract price to get a crop insurance guarantee that reflects the actual value of their crop, Paul said.
Paul expects changes in the organic program to continue. RMA has an agreement with the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service to collect organic-specific data.
“I think you’re going to see changes every year for several years,” he said.
Paul advises organic farmers meet with their crop insurance agent before the March 17 sales closing date and inquire about the options available to them.
“There’s a lot more options this year than there were last year for organic producers,” Paul said. “The beauty for the organic grower is now these programs are becoming tailored more and more to the organic practice versus the conventional practice, so they should be very happy about that.”