Southeast specialty crop growers now have more flexibility to use their own records to adhere to crop insurance reporting requirements. This will aid farmers who sell through direct marketing channels to collect insurance, report annual production or file a claim, says Marcia Bunger, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA).
“This particular change is going to involve 20 specialty crop growers that cover fruits and vegetables. Prior, there were quite a bit of reporting requirements that were necessary with these growers, but the change in the rule includes a new marketing certification that allows producers to self-identify if they will not have a disinterested third-party record. It enables them to use their own supporting production records when they go to report to their crop insurance agent,” Bunger said.
“In the past, it would have involved those specialty crop growers like direct marketers and vertically integrated producers where you had to either get an appraisal from your respected AIP (Approved Insurance Providers) or get a disinterested third party to verify the production. We have eased that requirement to allow the producers to self-report and use their own production records.”
Before these revisions were implemented, the RMA required disinterested third-party records, and AIPs may have conducted pre-harvest appraisals as a supporting production record.
The 20 specialty crops include commodities produced in the Southeast, notably blueberries, cabbage, avocadoes, fresh market peppers, fresh market sweet corn, onions, peaches and pecans.
The change is especially important because it relieves growers of extra paperwork burden.
“Easing paperwork burden is always a positive, especially for growers. They have busy lives. They are busy taking care of their crops, harvesting their crops and marketing their crops. At the end of the day, if they can report just using their own records, I think it’s a win-win,” Bunger said.
According to the RMA, federal crop insurance coverage for specialty crops has grown over the past 15 years. Individual crop insurance programs are now available for dozens of specialty crops.
Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator. Learn more about crop insurance and the modern farm safety net at rma.usda.gov.