Where can I find information on crop insurance for transitional and organic production?
M.P.KansasAnswer: In Kansas, Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) program is available. The Multi-Peril Crop Insurance Program (MPCI) is available for organically grown insurable crops. Acreage in transition to organic and acreage in buffers is also insurable. Federal Crop Insurance coverage, and thus insurance premiums, is based on average yield, numbers of acres per crop, and desired percent of reimbursement. To figure the terms under which a particular crop can be covered, two situations can be relevant. In the first, a producer reports production for each unit of production (field/crop) for up to 10 continuous years. An average of the data is the base yield that will be used in figuring insurance coverage. If 10 years of data are not available, a figure based on the historic county average will be used instead. New farmers can claim 100% of the historical yield average; existing farmers can only claim 65% (an incentive for real records to come into the office). Organic farms are not segregated or treated uniquely as far as historic yield averages are concerned. To date, there is no reimbursement premium for organic crop production. Policy payments are based solely on yield reduction, acreage affected, and average conventional commodity price. The USDA Economic Research Service is collecting data on prices for organic crops, but has not collected enough data to have price averages for organic crops. So, for now, organic producers will be compensated for the loss of yield and acreage, but only at average conventional prices. Organic producers need to apply for MPCI using a “Written Agreement,” which is a request for exception, unless RMA currently covers the crop in the county that is being requested to be insured. To write a Written Agreement, a producer must first find a crop insurance agent. That agent will fill out a special form and work with RMA to write the agreement. The specific wording in RMA materials states that “If a Written Agreement is not requested for organic farming practices, loss adjustment procedures for conventionally grown crops will be applicable. Appraisals for uninsured causes of loss will be applied when conventional farming practices would have prevented damage due to insects, disease, or weeds.” The use of a Written Agreement supersedes the status quo and acknowledges the unique practices involved in organic production.Coverage for organic and transitional farming practices is available for all crop insurance plans, including the catastrophic risk protection (CAT) program and pilot programs if they are available in the state and county. Unfortunately, organic producers will continue to have to pay 5% more than their conventional counterparts and will also, in most cases, continue to receive loss payments at the rates set for conventional crops. Also, organic producers will not have the option to purchase conventional crop insurance. Organic producers must identify themselves as such when applying for insurance and not doing so will present a significant risk of not obtaining payments for catastrophic events. A fact sheet on crop insurance for Organic Crops (PDF21K) is available for mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states. Be aware that this fact sheet is from a different regional office than the one that serves you, and the specifics may vary in your region. For more information, contact your regional RMA office in Topeka. Contact: Rebecca DavisDirector, Topeka Regional Office3401 SW Van Buren, Suite 2Topeka, KS 66611(785) 266-0248Fax: (785) 266-2487E-Mail: RSOKS@rma.usda.gov