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Minding Ag's Business: Crop Insurance Regulator Authorizes Streamlined Procedures to Help Farmers Affected by Drought

Katie Micik Dehlinger
By  Katie Micik Dehlinger , Farm Business Editor
USDA's emergency rules are intended to expedite the claims process in areas affected by extreme drought. (DTN file Photo)

MT. JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) -- USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) authorized emergency procedures on Tuesday to help farmers affected by extreme drought conditions in the Western U.S. and Northern Plains. The crop insurance regulator is working with crop insurance companies to streamline and accelerate the adjustment of losses and issuance of indemnity payments to policyholders in impacted areas.

"Crop insurance helps producers weather natural disasters like drought," RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy said. "We recognize the distress experienced by farmers and ranchers because of drought, and these emergency procedures will authorize insurance companies to expedite the claims process, enabling them to plant a new crop or a cover crop."

Much of the Western U.S. and Northern Plains are in different states of severe to exceptional drought. DTN's long-range forecasts, while anticipating some relief in temperatures, don't call for widespread, heavy precipitation. (You can read the latest on those forecasts here: https://www.dtnpf.com/…)

Under emergency procedures, crop insurance companies can accept delayed notices of loss in certain situations, streamline paperwork and reduce the required number of representative samples when damage is consistent. RMA said these steps will reduce burdens for both insurance companies and producers.

In Monday's Crop Progress report, NASS said 55% of the spring wheat crop, which is concentrated in the Dakotas and Minnesota, is in poor-to-very-poor condition. It had the lowest portion of the crop rated as good to excellent since 1988 at just 16%.

Spring crops are having plenty of problems, too. Only 24% of South Dakota's corn crop is rated as good to excellent, while North Dakota's stands at 35% and Minnesota's at 41%. (You can read more on crop conditions here: https://www.dtnpf.com/…)

RMA encourages farmers to contact their crop insurance agent as soon as they notice damage and they must give the company an opportunity to inspect the crop before the producer put those acres to another use. If there's a disagreement with the appraisal at the time the acreage is set to be destroyed or no longer cared for, the insurance company and farmer can determine a representative sample area to be left intact. Once an insured crop has been appraised and released, the producer may cut the crop for silage, destroy it or take other action on the land, including planting a cover crop.

RMA updated a fact sheet on crop insurance and drought-damaged crops that includes information on cutting for silage, continued care for drought-damaged crops, diversion of irrigation water, prevented planting due to drought and more. You can find it here: https://www.rma.usda.gov/…

USDA said the new crop insurance flexibilities are part of USDA's broader response to help producers impacted by drought. The news release stated producers may qualify for other USDA programs, including disaster assistance, to help offset losses as well as conservation programs. It encourages producers to check out the Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet (https://www.farmers.gov/…) and the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool (https://www.farmers.gov/…)

Katie Dehlinger can be reached at katie.dehlinger@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter at @KatieD_DTN

Katie Dehlinger