By MATTHEW WEAVER
USDA Risk Management Agency officials hope more nursery growers will consider crop insurance.
May 1 is the sales closing date for 2013 nursery multi-peril crop insurance coverage. It protects growers against adverse weather conditions, earthquakes, fire and wildlife damage, said agency risk management specialist Jo Lynne Seufer.
The insurance is available to anyone operating a nursery producing field-grown or container-grown plants, said Dave Paul, director for the agency office in Spokane Valley, Wash., which oversees insurance for Idaho, Oregon and Washington state.
One policy has been issued in Idaho, 53 in Oregon and 66 in Washington. Paul said Oregon represents $275 million of the $314 million in coverage. The main reason is more larger nursery operations are based in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, Paul said.
"We'd like to see all nurseries look at this program," he said, noting the agency is evaluating the program, which originated in 1989, in hopes of improving it.
Ann Bates, executive director of the Idaho Nursery and Landscape Association, believes the low participation might be because few Idaho growers are aware of what the program offers. She believes the insurance is worth considering.
"The nursery business is probably about the only business that is not government-subsidized at all, so when they take any kind of loss to a crop, it's a loss to their total bottom line," she said.
According to the agency, coverage is based on a plant inventory value report declaring the value of insurable plants -- the lower of a grower's own prices or prices in a USDA plant price schedule.
New policy applications may be filed any time. All applications are subject to a 30-day waiting period before coverage begins. Seufer said the May 1 deadline is for producers who wish to request a change in their coverage.
The agency recommends growers meet with their local crop insurance agents.
A list of agents is available at USDA Service Centers or at www3.rma.usda.gov/tools/agents