USDA expands whole-farm crop insurance
August 27, 2015
Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the expansion of the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) crop insurance policy to every state and every county; making Whole-Farm the first crop insurance policy to be universally available.
"NSAC would like to thank Secretary Vilsack and RMA Administrator Willis for their continued commitment to Whole-Farm Revenue Protection insurance," said Ferd Hoefner, NSAC's Policy Director. He continued, "The expansion of WFRP to every state and every county, the simplification of record keeping requirement for direct marketers, the expansion of coverage for livestock, and increased access for beginning farmers shows their commitment to making this important risk management tool work for the full range of diversified producers. We will continue to publicize the program and encourage farmers to take it under serious consideration."
Many of the improvements to the program reflect changes requested by NSAC as part of comments submitted to RMA earlier this year.
We are especially appreciative of the changes to the record keeping requirements for direct marketers, the allowance for beginning farmers to purchase a policy two years earlier, and the elimination of the 35 percent cap on animals and animal products.
In 2015, Whole-Farm's first year, it experienced a greater than 30 percent increase in sales, an optimistic beginning. With these improvements, and others we hope will be made in future years, we think this policy can have a huge impact on the ability of diversified, organic, and direct marketing farmers to have meaningful access to crop insurance for the first time.
The improvements being made for the 2016 crop year include:
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1. Expansion of Whole-Farm to every state and every county. Previously the policy had been available in 45 states and most counties in those states.
2. Expanded access for beginning farmers, so they can take part if they started farming in 2012 or earlier. The provision allowing new farmers that take over 90 percent of an existing operation is retained.
3. The elimination of the 35 percent limit on expected revenue from animals and animal products, and greenhouse and nursery crops. An overall cap of $1 million on revenue from these sources remains in place.
4. The streamlining of record keeping requirements for farmers that market directly to the public, to making the policy more straightforward.
5. Allowing farmers who have physically been unable to farm for a year, such as because of illness or military deployment, to be able to substitute the lag year for the missing year.
6. The ability of tax-exempt organizations, such as tribes, to qualify if they have appropriate records to substitute for tax records.
7. Increasing the ability of expanding operations to obtain increased coverage.
All of RMA's materials on the changes can be viewed on their WFRP page.
What is Whole-Farm Revenue Protection Insurance?
WFRP, unlike traditional yield or revenue insurance, is not intended for a single specific crop, but for all the crops and livestock grown or raised on a single farm. This is especially helpful to diversified sustainable and organic farms that do not have single crop policies or organic price elections available for one or more of the crops grown.
How Farmers Can Purchase Whole-Farm
Beginning September 1, farmers can begin signing up and will have until January 31, February 28 or March 15 to sign up for WFRP, depending on the spring closing date for their county.
Farmers interested in the policy should start by reviewing RMA's fact sheet on WFRP and then talk to their crop insurance agent about the records they will need to assemble and what the purchase deadline is for their county. RMA also has several other resources available to help farmers decide if WFRP is right for them.