Jul 3, 2024
USDA increases insurance options for specialty, organic growers

Organic farming practice for apples, pears, prunes, figs, fresh and processing tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, and almonds and walnuts are to see benefits from changes in USDA’s crop insurance options.

The USDA is expanding crop insurance options for specialty and organic growers starting with the 2025 crop year. Some of the key changes for 2025 will impact almond and walnut growers.

The USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) is introducing new coverage options and policy updates, including enterprise units by organic farming practice and expanded eligibility for various crops.

“The Risk Management Agency is excited to expand coverage options for specialty and organic growers,” said RMA Administrator Marcia Bunger in a press release. “Expanding our coverage options gives producers more opportunities to manage their risks.

2025 CROP YEAR CHANGES

Key changes for the 2025 crop year include:

  • Enterprise and Optional Units: Expanded to crops like almonds, apples, avocados, citrus, figs, macadamia nuts, pears, prunes, and walnuts.
  • Walnut Quality Adjustment: Sunburned damaged walnuts now eligible for indemnity payments.
  • Almond Leaf Year: Coverage extended to younger trees,including those in their fifth leaf year.
  • Processing Bean Insurance Period: Extended by 16 days in Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey.
  • Canola: Insurance expanded to South Dakota and Michigan.

The changes are part of the Expanding Options for Specialty and Organic Growers Final Rule, which updates several crop insurance policies and provisions.

 

ADDITIONAL CHANGES 

Additional changes in the June 30 Final Rule include:

New Breaking Acreage

    • Reduce administrative burdens on growers and the delivery system by removing written agreement requirements on new breaking acreage.
    • Reduce coverage penalties on perennial specialty crop producers and producers of intensively managed crops, such as alfalfa, when they move to row crop production. This allows for a seamless transition without losing crop insurance coverage.

Assignment of Indemnity

  • Provide flexibility for an indemnity payment to be issued via automated clearing house (ACH) or other electronic means when these methods do not allow for multiple payees.

Good Farming Practices (GFP)

  • Streamline and shorten the FCIC GFP reconsideration process by closing the administrative file following FCIC’s initial GFP determination.

Double Cropping and Annual Forage

  • Clarify a producer must prove insurance history for the annual forage crop and meet the current double cropping requirements to receive a full prevented planting payment.

The USDA’s efforts are part of the broader Specialty Crops Competitiveness Initiative aimed at increasing the competitiveness of specialty crops in both domestic and international markets.


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