Specialty crops including fruits, vegetables and nuts make up almost one-third of total crop sales in the United States. A large number of specialty crop acres remain uninsured, however.
American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) economists examined specialty crop coverage in the latest Market Intel and found that more than 80% of the acreage of hazelnuts, kiwifruit, strawberries and lettuce remain uncovered through the Federal Crop Insurance Program or Noninsured Crop Disaster Program, while more than 50% of walnut, pecan, peach, squash, sweet corn, watermelon, pumpkin, cucumber and pepper acreage lacks coverage.
The Market Intel explains that this lack of coverage, “shifts pressure to ad hoc disaster assistance programs which require frequent congressional authorization and lack uniformity and timeliness in producers’ abilities to benefit. They often overlook many causes of losses or qualifying provisions necessary to benefit these vulnerable growers.”
Since 2000, risk management participation has increased in most specialty crop categories. For instance, among fruits, nuts and trees, insured 2022 liabilities reached $15 billion, a $12 billion increase since 2000. Other specialty crop categories, such as nursery crops, have experienced a decline in participation.
“America’s farmers are blessed with the ability to grow diverse and abundant foods across the country,” AFBF president Zippy Duvall said. “With that diversity comes a unique set of risks not widely experienced in conventional row crop production. The 2023 farm bill should recognize those differences and offer programs that provide the same protections regardless of what a farmer chooses to grow.”
AFBF has made expanding insured commodities to include specialty crops one of its priorities for the 2023 farm bill.