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USDA expanding crop insurance options for farmers hit hardest by severe weather

WASHINGTON – You never know if, in a given year, you’ll get too little moisture, or too much. That’s why USDA’s Risk Management Agency is expanding its crop insurance options to provide relief to farmers who are impacted by severe weather.

First, there’s the Supplemental Coverage Option, which is an insurance policy rider that covers part of the deductible under certain circumstances. That’s expanding, as RMA Acting Associate Administrator Mike Alston explains.

“RMA is using yield data reported by insured producers,” says Alston, “which allows SCO to be offered in more areas, and allows more practice-specific insurance coverage to be offered, which is different from previous insurance offers.”

Then there’s the Average Production History Yield Exclusion, which lets producers, with qualifying crops in elgibile counties, exclude a year of especially bad production when calculating yields for crop insurance coverage.

“Those crop years are eligible when the average per planted acreage yield for that county was less than 50 percent below the simple average of the previous ten years,” explains Alston. “Those counties will be eligible for the APH exclusion. It will allow eligible producers to receive a higher approved yield on their insurance policies through the federal crop insurance program.”

The changes to SCO and the APH Yield Exclusion are best viewed with the online map tool at www.rma.usda.gov.

“It’s an interactive map,” says Alston, “illustrating the occurrences of yield exclusion by crop, irrigation practice, and location.”

Also worth adding to the calendar: this Wednesday, June 17, marks the beginning of the enrollment period for two new Farm Bill programs; the Agricultural Risk Coverage Program and the Price Loss Coverage Program. The enrollment period closes on September 30, 2015.

To hear more about expanding crop insurance coverage, click the audio player above this story.