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It is no secret that farming is a very risky business. It takes a lot of faith to be a farmer because our success is unknown from year to year largely due to weather. Whenever we face risk, we try to mitigate it in some manner.
For instance, there is a risk when we drive a car. To cover this risk, we have car insurance. This insurance helps us when things go wrong. In the same token, farmers carry crop insurance to help their business survive when Mother Nature throws them a curveball.
Ashtabula County farmers know this risk all too well. Remember the polar vortex that hit our grape industry in two consecutive years in 2014 and 2015?
Through the Farm Bill legislation, farmers are provided an option to insure their crops through a subsidized federal crop insurance program.
In fact, this program has become the pre-eminent risk management tool for farmers across the country.
Last year, the federal crop insurance program included more than 118,000 coverage options for 543 varieties of crops.
It is estimated that 85 percent of planted acreage for our nation’s major crops are now covered by crop insurance while 73 percent of planted acreage for eligible specialty crops is covered.
During the last farm bill, some significant changes occurred to the crop insurance programs along with the addition of new avenues to protect crops.
One of these included the introduction of a Whole Farm Revenue Protection policy, which was developed to provide a tool for smaller farms, diverse farms and those growing specialty and organic crops. Whole-Farm was first offered in 2015, and by last year it was available in every county in the nation.
During a discussion with Frank Piper from Cherry Valley last week, he mentioned that area farmers are asking a lot of questions about whole farm revenue insurance plans and he offered to spearhead the development of an educational crop insurance meeting.
Thanks to Frank’s efforts, I am pleased that the Ashtabula County Extension office will be co-hosting a Crop Insurance Educational Meeting 9 a.m. to noon Monday at the Williamsfield Community Center, 5920 State Route 322 in Williamsfield.
This program is free and open to any farmer in northeast Ohio. This meeting is not just for corn and soybean growers but also for grape, apple, nursery and forage crop producers. Come learn about these insurance products free of any sales pressure.
I encourage all of our local farmers, regardless of what crop they raise, to come and learn more about crop insurance.
If you are like me, the world of crop insurance is confusing and this program is meant to educate — not be a sales pitch.
So what is on tap for this program? We are very pleased that Melissa Williams, vice president of operations from ARMtech Crop Insurance of Lubbock, Texas, will be traveling north to help educate our producers on the “nuts and bolts” of Whole Farm Revenue Insurance Plans (WFRP). She will explain its pros and cons and explain how it may have a place for farmers; especially for ones who are diversified in their cropping programs.
She will share a comparison with the other traditionally used crop insurance programs. Learn more about the Whole Farm Revenue Plans, traditional Actual Production History (APH) Plans and Nursery Coverage plans. Melissa will also explain the wetland compliance issues surrounding tiling and clearing land for each of these products.
Following Melissa’s presentation, Jennifer Souders, Ohio’s ARMtech marketing representative, will share details on the important crop insurance deadlines that producers need to be aware of.
These deadlines include sales closing, production reporting, acreage reporting, earliest plant date, and late plant date.
Frank Piper, Ohio claims supervisor for ARMtech Insurance Services, will then share the new rules with regards to “prevent-plant” acres and the new rules for planting a second crop after a crop failure. He will provide details on the rules of cover crops and how they impact crop insurance. He will also share how breaking in new ground may or may not be insurable. He will also share more about common land unit reporting versus whole farm reporting.
Farmers can also obtain insurance coverage through private means; so representatives from private companies have been invited to teach as well. We are pleased that Mary Grassbaugh, private product marketing manager for Armtech Insurance Service, will be in attendance to share details on Production Cost Insurance (PCI). This insurance covers the farm’s risk for fertilizer, seed and chemicals plus a specific amount of gross margin revenue per acre.
Rob Lensman, regional sales manager for Ag Armour, will also be on hand to explain their Harvest Max program. This is a shallow yield loss crop insurance program, which has been used by some local farmers who are not enrolled in the federal farm program. And then, Scott Graves, from ARMtech Insurance Services, will share more about crop hail and wind coverages. Yes, we even have to think about having hail, wind and crop vandalism coverage.
At the conclusion of the meeting, producers will be treated to a delicious lunch catered by Bobbie Lahti Catering. This lunch is being sponsored by ARMtech Crop Insurance.
I heard a rumor that it might be my favorite chicken and biscuit lunch!
There is no fee to attend this program. I would like to thank Frank Piper for all his work in setting up this program and to ARMtech Crop Insurance for covering the associated costs of this program.
To close today’s column, I would like to share a quote from Natasha Richardson who stated, “What my father especially taught me was to not always take the safe road, the easy road. If you are going to do good work, you have to risk failing badly.”
Have a good and safe day
DAVID MARRISON is associate professor and extension educator, agriculture and natural resources, Ohio State University Extension. Marrison can be reached at 440-576-9008 or email@example.com.