Different index will increase accuracy, ease of use


Capital Press

New revisions to pilot programs will help some Idaho and Oregon ranchers and beekeepers insure their operations.

The USDA Risk Management Agency recently announced revisions to the Pasture, Rangeland and Forage program, designed for hay production and grazing purposes, and the apiculture pilot program.

The sales closing date for both programs is Nov. 30. Producers can contact their insurance agents for details.

Under the revisions, the pasture program now uses the normalized difference vegetation index from the U.S. Geological Survey instead of a rainfall index offered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Using the rainfall index led to inaccuracies in Idaho, and the vegetation index program will be more user-friendly, said risk management specialist Jo Lynne Seufer.

For vegetation index insurance plans, the crop year will begin Jan. 1 and end on Dec. 31. Producers may select one or more three-month periods to represent their forage production.

The apiculture pilot program provides a safety net for beekeepers' primary sources of income, including honey, pollen collection, wax and breeding stock.

The Pasture, Rangeland and Forage program is available in parts of Idaho and Oregon. In Idaho, it is available in Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Bonneville, Caribou, Cassia, Franklin, Gooding, Jefferson, Jerome, Madison, Oneida, Owyhee, Power and Twin Falls counties. In Oregon, it is available in Baker, Crook, Grant, Harney, Lake, Malheur, Union, Wallowa and Wheeler counties.

The apiculture pilot program is available in all Oregon and Idaho counties.

All agency programs must go through a pilot stage before becoming available nationwide, Seufer said. The pilot period can last from three to seven years, as the agency makes improvements.

The pasture program started two years ago. The apiculture program started last year. They are also being tested elsewhere in the United States.

"We're just at the very beginning of these," Seufer said. "We're hoping these improvements enhance participation and producers' interests."

Matthew Weaver is based in Spokane. E-mail: mweaver@capitalpress.com.

More online

Risk Management Agency: www.rma.usda.gov

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