Farmers faced with important crop insurance decisions

Farmers need to make some important decisions in these last few weeks leading up to the March 15 crop insurance deadline.

The crops impacted by this deadline include corn, soybeans, grain sorghum, green peas, barley, dry beans, forage seeding, oats, popcorn, cabbage, mint, sweet corn, sugar beets, tomatoes, potatoes, processing beans and processi
ng pumpkins.

For most farmers, crop insurance affects those who want to:
  • Purchase crop insurance for their spring-planted crops
  • Make a change to the crops that they have insured or to the level of their crops’ protection
  • Change insurance providers
  • Cancel a policy
According to an article in Ohio’s Country Journal, volatility is expected in the prices for corn, soybeans and their inputs and the weather is always an unknown. These risks, at the current high price levels, are tremendous.

“Prices are higher this year, the volatility in the markets is greater than ever and input prices are high, so it is really important to keep crop insurance at high levels, said Keith Summers, agent and broker at Leist Mercantile in Circleville. “With that, the cost of crop insurance is going to be higher as well. We’re seeing rates anywhere from 25 percent to 30 percent over last year.”

Along with the higher prices, the Risk Management Agency for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering farmers a new crop insurance option for the 2011 crop year.

This new option for crop insurance is “WeatherBill,” which offers customized protection from the uncertainties of the weather, including:
  • Drought throughout the growing season
  • Excessive rainfall during key planning dates
  • Cold weather throughout the season
  • Heat stress during pollination
  • Killing freeze before the harvest
  • Rains that can delay harvest
WeatherBill coverage does not depend on insurance adjusters, but on the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) weather data for a nationwide grid of 12-mile by 12-mile squares throughout the country. The insurance can be purchased by the acre within these grids.

This new crop insurance option, along with the higher prices, increases the need for farmers to meet with their crop insurance agent.

“There are a lot of dollars on the table this year and it is important for farmers to make sure they have the right coverage for their farm. Using crop insurance is a really good way to lock in some revenue,” said Summers.

For more information and a list of local crop insurance agents, farmers can visit

Do you use crop insurance? Do you know a farmer who doesn’t use it? What do you think about the new insurance option, WeatherBill, which is available to farmers?

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