Ag Policy Blog

Natural Disasters and Crop Insurance Claims for 2017

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Flooded cotton fields in Texas after Hurricane Harvey. Cotton losses in Texas topped $301.1 million in insurance claims.

An article on a website called "The New Food Economy" this week highlighted some of the financial losses facing agriculture by pointing to the $81 billion disaster package before Congress and highlighting that just 3% of the funding, or about $2.6 billion, is set aside for agriculture.

The article then asks if that's enough, adding that the group tallied up about $5 billion in agricultural losses from disasters.…

A lot of the losses tallied involved livestock. Looking at information released by Texas A&M in November, Texas suffered about $200 million in agricultural losses, including $93 million from livestock, $100 million from cotton and $8 million for rice and soybeans. The 54 counties affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas also had about 1.2 million cattle, about 27% of the state's total herd, though it's unclear just how many of those cattle were lost. We know there was a lot of footage at the time of the hurricane of producers and good Samaritans moving cattle to higher ground.

And while agriculture may have suffered $5 billion in losses from the tally done by The New Food Economy, the article neglected to look at crop insurance indemnities filed so far for 2017 crop losses. Indemnities claimed on the 2017 crop year, according to the Risk Management Agency, top $3.8 billion nationally for crop losses. That's oddly enough almost exactly the amount of claims filed for 2016.

Such insurance losses don't begin to compare to $9.3 billion in insurance claims for 2014 or $12 billion in 2013.

Texas producers so far have received the largest volume of crop-insurance payouts by state, showing $529.1 million indemnities. Cotton indemnities in Texas have topped $301.1 million. Pasture insurance losses accounted for $33.7 million and wheat losses are reported at $36.9 million. Rice payouts in the state also have reached $17.2 million.

Drought was also a significant factor in some states. North Dakota fell in right behind Texas with $487.35 million in crop-insurance claims against 2017 crop losses. Indemnities for wheat in North Dakota hit $203.5 million. Soybeans losses are valued at $81.9 million and claims for corn in the state are valued at $78 million. Claims on the canola crop are valued at $38.9 million while dry beans account for $26.1 million. Pasture losses are about $8.3 million.

South Dakota has indemnity claims of $304 million. That includes $99.7 million for corn losses. Soybean losses total $38.5 million. Forage losses in South Dakota are valued at $18.9 million while pasture losses paid $18.4 million in indemnities.

Kansas also came in with $242.9 million in crop insurance indemnities. Corn losses are valued at $100.3 million. Wheat claims have reached $78 million. Soybean losses are valued at $42.2 million. Grain sorghum losses are valued at $16.1 million.

Insurance claims in Montana are at about $225.2 million with dry pea indemnities topping $74.2 million. Wheat insurance claims in Montana also are at $118.9 million.

California has had $187.4 million in claims. That includes $54.9 million in indemnity payouts for California rice growers. Pasture losses in California generated $9.5 million in claims. Pistachio growers also collected $11.5 million from insurance indemnities. Almond losses led to $11.7 million in insurance claims. Avocado losses have accounted $9.7 million in claims while cherry losses in California topped $10.5 million as well. Alfalfa seed losses in California also were more than $8.2 million.

Florida and Georgia bore the brunt of Hurricane Irma. Overall, crop and pasture losses in Florida have led to $73.6 million in insurance claims with pasture losses accounting for $36.2 million. Peanut losses in Florida also accounted for $8 million in losses while pepper losses are valued at $7.6 million. Florida grapefruit losses covered by insurance are at about $4.55 million. Still, orange losses covered by insurance so far only account for about $925,500 in reported indemnities.

Georgia farmers have filed $83.9 million in indemnity claims on crop insurance. Blueberry farmers have filed $24.4 million in insurance claims this year while peanut growers have received $16.6 million in indemnity claims. Peaches accounted for $8.25 million in claims. Georgia cotton farmers have filed $9.5 million in claims.

Looking at Risk Management Agency reports for Puerto Rico, the report hasn't been updated since Nov. 1, but reports $1.48 million in indemnities for starch crops. Overall, crop insurance covers about $34.3 million out of $56.6 million in crop value on the island. It's likely there are significant claims pending in Puerto Rico's coffee industry, where roughly 50% of the crop has been destroyed. About half of the $23.8 million coffee crop is covered by insurance.

USDA Risk Management Agency summary of business reports.…

Chris Clayton can be reached at

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