Ag Policy Blog

USDA Tweaking Insurance Rules on Replanting and Double-Cropping

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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USDA's Federal Crop Insurance Corp. is changing rules and definitions for replanting crops and counting double-crop acres starting in the 2017 crop year.

The rule changes, meant to clarify crop-insurance policies for farmers and insurers, were published Wednesday in the Federal Register.

USDA is trying to clarify rules regarding when it is "practical to replant." Concerns have been raised regarding the definition, difficulty and inconsistency in the replanting language on crop-insurance policies. Insurance companies have varying interpretations regarding when it is practical to replant even when adjusters from different companies are working on an early season crop loss in the same area.

USDA wants to set a clearer definition for when a field and crop is considered practical to replant, and if not replanted, when coverage would not be provided for that initial lost crop. The new definition on "practical to replant" also would include exceptions for weather conditions that make it impossible to replant, or would have an effect on seed germination and emergence.

According to the rule language, USDA will consider it practical to replant by looking at moisture availability, marketing window, condition of the field and time until crop matures for that replanted crop to ensure it will reach maturity before the end of the insurance period. It will be practical to replant before the late-planting period, or on or before the final planting date if there is no late-planting period for that crop. However, the exception will apply if it's physically impossible to replant the acreage or if there is no chance that the seeds would germinate, emerge or develop into a healthy plant.

Another change would make it easier on farmers who double crop certain acres. Farmers have a problem keeping records on acreage and production in areas that may be double cropped, or not. For instance, if a farmer has two fields in the same crop-insurance unit, a farmer may only double crop on one field and not the other, but the farmer is expected to keep production records showing that part of that unit was double cropped and part of it was not.

Current double-cropping requirements don't take into account changes in a farm operation such as accounting for added acres. The rule change will deal with both added acreages on a farm and account for multiple crop rotations. USDA is changing the rules to allow eligible double-cropping acres to be based on either the highest number of acres double cropped in the last four crop years, or the percentage of acres historically double cropped.

The double-cropping rule would make it easier to deal with records production. If a farmer doesn't have specific records on production and acreage for the double-cropped acres, then USDA will allocate the first and second crop production to acreage in proportion to the liability for the acreage that was double cropped and acreage that was not double cropped.

For example, if a farmer who doesn't maintain separate acres for a double-cropping field operates a 100-acre farm that has historically double cropped 50 acres of wheat followed by soybeans, then the farmer has 50% of acres that are considered historically double-cropped. So if the farmer buys an additional 200 acres, then the number of acres eligible for double cropping would be 150 acres, or 50% of the total farm.

While USDA is publishing the rule as "final," the Federal Crop Insurance Corp. will have a 60-day comment period that could prompt possible further changes in the rules.

More details on the rule change for practical to replant and double cropping will likely be provided by USDA's Risk Management Agency to crop insurers and farmers as the marketing year begins for the 2017 crops.

Details from the Federal Register posting can be found at…

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