Regional RMA director

Ben Thiel, director of the Spokane regional office of the USDA Risk Management Agency.

If farmers are delayed or prevented in their spring planting, they have options when it comes to crop insurance, a USDA official says.

“It’s generally recognized at this point that conditions are wet for Eastern Washington, maybe most of Washington, maybe most of the Northwest,” said Ben Thiel, director of the USDA Risk Management Agency office in Spokane Valley, Wash.

Some farmers may be dealing with excess moisture and saturated soil or lingering snow cover, keeping them from getting out into the fields with their equipment.

“They might not be able to timely plant in comparison to their average planting time,” Thiel said.

Final planting dates vary by location, ranging from April 15 to May 15 for spring wheat in Washington. Planting dates vary for other crops.

Prevented planting coverage includes floods, hurricanes or excess precipitation. Because conditions vary by location, loss determinations are based on each producer’s circumstance, according to the agency.

Farmers prevented from planting must provide notice of loss to their insurance agents within 72 hours after the final planting date, if they do not intend or will not be able to plant the insured crop during the late planting period or if a late planting period is not available.

Thiel recommends growers consult their insurance agent.

According to USDA, a farmer can:

• Plant the insured crop during a late planting period, generally 25 days after the final planting date, but this varies by crop and area. They will not receive a prevented planting payment. For most crops, timely planted production guarantee reduces 1% per day for each day planting is delayed after the final planting date.

• Plant the insured crop after the late planting period. They will not receive a prevented planting payment. A farmer has the option to not insure the late planted crop or to insure with the production guarantee reduced to a prevented planting coverage level, which is 60% for wheat.

• Leave the acreage idle and receive a full prevented planting payment, which is 60% of their wheat insurance guarantee.

• Plant a cover crop during the late planting period and receive a full prevented planting payment. The farmer may not hay, graze or otherwise harvest the cover crop before Nov. 1. If they do, they will not receive a prevented planting payment for their first crop.

• Plant a cover crop after the late planting period; hay or graze before Nov. 1 and receive 35% of a prevented planting payment for their first crop or wait to hay or graze on or after Nov. 1 and receive a full prevented planting payment for the first crop.

• Plant a second crop after the late planting period if prevented from planting or if no late planting period is available, receive a payment equal to 35% of the prevented planting guarantee.

The RMA cannot extend the final planting date because doing so would be a change in terms and conditions of the insurance policy after the contract change date. If RMA were to extend the final planting date, it would create a breach of contract, according to the agency.

Prevented planting does not have an impact on a grower’s actual production history, if no second crop is planted.

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