FAQ: There are some major changes in private crop insurance policies this year available from insurance companies. Are farmers still required to buy private crop insurance in order to be eligible for USDA's SURE or Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program?
Answer: Provided by Beth Grabau, public relations and outreach specialist for USDA Farm Service Agency's state office in Des Moines. Kevin McClure, FSA program specialist at the state office, helped prepare the following answers.
The short answer is yes, you need to purchase crop insurance on insurable crops and purchase NAP coverage on non-insurable crops of economic significance each year to be eligible for USDA's Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program or SURE. The SURE program is USDA's crop disaster aid program. The deadline to buy crop insurance for spring-planted crops in Iowa is March 15. Contact your crop insurance agent as soon as possible if you haven't already, as there are some major changes in crop insurance policies beginning with the 2011 crop.
Forage crops have a sales closing date of September 30 of the prior year. These crops, if economically significant, should have already been insured.
SURE is administered through USDA's Farm Service Agency. All crops of economic significance, with limited exceptions, are eligible for SURE. The higher your level of crop insurance coverage is, the higher your guarantee levels under the SURE program will be. In a way, SURE is like getting free, additional crop insurance coverage.
Question: What do I have to do now to make sure I'm eligible for SURE, in case a crop disaster strikes my 2011 crop?
SURE and some of FSA's other disaster programs now require that all crops of economic significance be insured. In a nutshell, economic significance is whether or not a crop contributes at least a 5% value to your farming operation. If it does, then that crop must be insured.
Certain crops are not eligible to be covered by private insurance. In these cases, policies are available under the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program or NAP which is administered by FSA. An example is alfalfa hay, private insurance for this crop may not be available in your county or not available because of the age of the crop. This is where the NAP comes into play.
Producers should also keep in mind all acreage of a corn or a soybean crop is to be insured. Do you have some unrated or high risk land that you didn't pay a private crop insurance premium on due to cost or availability? This acreage may also need to be insured. It is important to check with your local FSA office if you are in a situation similar to this.
While SURE is one disaster program administered by FSA that requires all crops of economic significance to be insured, other disaster programs also have this requirement. So not insuring one crop could cause ineligibility on some livestock-related disaster programs as well. Remember too, some crops may have an insurance deadline different from your major crops.
Question: Do I need to sign anything at my local FSA office this winter? Do I have to provide proof I've bought private crop insurance for 2011 prior to the March 15 deadline?
The determination as to whether or not a farm is eligible for the 2011 SURE program payment does not happen until after harvest and the end of the marketing year for the 2011 crop. That will not be until the fall of 2012. This is one of the reasons why farmers may get into trouble if they didn't get the needed insurance before the closing date.
For the 2011 crop year, there is nothing to sign or papers to file or bring in. If there is a sign-up for a 2011 SURE payment in the fall of 2012, producers will be notified and most crop insurance data is provided to FSA through an RMA download. Meaning, RMA transmits to FSA the data needed to calculate most SURE payments. Producers just need to sign a form and FSA does the rest. However, sometimes additional information is needed in unique cases.
Question: I keep hearing about USDA Secretarial Designated Counties, but how do I qualify?
A Secretarial Disaster Designation is requested of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture by the governor of a state or by an Indian Tribal Council leader. It is the most widely used approach, but is also the most complicated. It is a four step process, but the damages and losses must be due to a natural disaster and be a minimum 30% production loss of at least one crop in the county.
If you are in a Secretarial Designated County or a contiguous county, you must have suffered at least a 10% production loss on at least one crop to be eligible to sign up. If you are not in a designated county, your farm's actual production must be less than 50% of its normal production. For this program, FSA generally defines a farm as the entirety of all crops in all counties that a producer plants or intends to plant for harvest.
If you have specific questions or need details regarding USDA farm programs, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency office. You can also get news and information about DCP, ACRE and other USDA programs at www.fsa.usda.gov.
Two Iowa State University Extension Web sites have farm program information and analysis. They are ISU's Ag Decision Maker site at www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm and ISU Extension Specialist Steve Johnson's site at www.extension.iastate.edu/polk/farmmanagement.htm. And be sure to read the regular column "Frequently Asked Questions about the Farm Program" that appears in each issue of Wallaces Farmer magazine and at www.WallacesFarmer.com
Two Iowa State University Extension Web sites have farm program information and analysis. They are ISU's Ag Decision Maker site at www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm and ISU Extension Specialist Steve Johnson's site at www.extension.iastate.edu/polk/farmmanagement.htm.
And be sure to read the regular column "Frequently Asked Questions about the Farm Program" that appears in each issue of Wallaces Farmer magazine and at www.WallacesFarmer.com