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Buying a crop insurance policy is a risk management tool available to agricultural producers. Producers should consider how a policy will work in conjunction with their other risk management strategies to insure the best possible outcome each crop year. Crop insurance agents and other agri-business specialists can assist producers in developing a good management plan.
RMA provides policies for more than 100 crops. Policies typically consist of general crop insurance provisions, specific crop provisions, policy endorsements and special provisions. See RMA's county crop program listings for information about crop policies available in specific counties and states.
Policies are available for most commodities; however, some policies are being tested as pilots or have not been expanded nationwide so are not available in all areas.
Insurance Plans provide different types of insurance coverage to specific commodities:
- Actual Production History (APH) policies insure producers against yield losses due to natural causes such as drought, excessive moisture, hail, wind, frost, insects, and disease. The producer selects the amount of average yield to insure; from 50-75 percent (in some areas to 85 percent). The producer also selects the percent of the predicted price to insure; between 55 and 100 percent of the crop price established annually by RMA. If the harvested plus any appraised production is less than the yield insured, the producer is paid an indemnity based on the difference. Indemnities are calculated by multiplying this difference by the insured percentage of the price selected when crop insurance was purchased and by the insured share.
- Actual Revenue History (ARH) plan of insurance has many parallels to the APH plan of insurance, with the primary difference being that instead of insuring historical yields, the plan insures historical revenues. The policy is structured as an endorsement to the Common Crop Insurance Policy Basic Provisions. It restates many of the APH yield procedures to reflect a revenue product. Each crop insured under ARH has unique crop provisions. Like current revenue coverage plans, the ARH pilot program protects growers against losses from low yields, low prices, low quality, or any combination of these events.
- Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) and AGR-Lite policies insure revenue of the entire farm rather than an individual crop by guaranteeing a percentage of average gross farm revenue, including a small amount of livestock revenue. The policies use information from a producer's Schedule F tax forms, and current year expected farm revenue, to calculate policy revenue guarantee.
- Area Risk Protection Insurance (ARPI) is an insurance plan that provides coverage based on the experience of an entire area, generally a county. ARPI replaces the Group Risk Plan (GRP) and the Group Risk Income Protection Plan (GRIP).
- Commodity Exchange Price Provisions (CEPP)
- Contract Price Addendum (CPA)
- Dollar Plan policies provide protection against declining value due to damage that causes a yield shortfall. The amount of insurance is based on the cost of growing a crop in a specific area. A loss occurs when the annual crop value is less than the amount of insurance. The maximum dollar amount of insurance is stated on the actuarial document. The insured may select a percent of the maximum dollar amount equal to CAT (catastrophic level of coverage), or purchase additional coverage levels.
- Group Risk Plan (GRP) is designed as a risk management tool to insure against widespread loss of production of the insured crop in a county. GRP policies use a county yield index as the basis for determining a loss. When the estimated county yield for the insured crop, as determined by National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), falls below the trigger yield level chosen by the producer, an indemnity is paid. Payments are not based on an individual producer's crop yields. Coverage levels are available for up to 90 percent of the expected county yield. GRP involves less paperwork and costs less than plans of insurance against individual loss, as described above. Under GRP, insured acreage for an individual producer's crop may have low yields and not receive a payment if the county does not suffer a similar level of yield loss. This insurance is primarily intended for producers whose crop yields typically follow the average county yield.
- Group Risk Income Protection (GRIP) is designed as a risk management tool to insure against widespread loss of revenue from the insured crop in a county. GRIP policies use a county revenue index as the basis for determining a loss by using the estimated county yield for the insured crop, as determined by National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), multiplied by the harvest price. If the county revenue falls below the trigger revenue level chosen by the producer, an indemnity is paid. Unlike GRP, it is not necessary to have a decline in yield to be indemnified, as long as the combination of price and yield results in a county revenue that is less than the trigger revenue. Payments are not based on individual producer’s crop yields and revenues. Coverage levels are available for up to 90 percent of the expected county revenue. GRIP involves less paperwork and costs less than plans of insurance against individual loss as described above. Under GRIP, an individual producer’s crop may receive reduced revenue from the insured acreage and not receive a payment under this plan if the county does not suffer a similar level of revenue loss. This insurance is primarily intended for producers whose crop yields typically follow the average county yield and wish to insure that the combination of yield and price result in a particular level of revenue.
- Group Risk Income Protection - Harvest Revenue Option (GRIP-HRO) is a supplemental endorsement to the GRIP Basic Provisions. The Harvest Revenue Option changes the trigger revenue to be the result of multiplying the expected county yield by the greater of the expected price or the harvest price and by the producer chosen coverage level percentage. If the county revenue for the insured crop, type, and practice falls below the GRIP-HRO trigger revenue, an indemnity is paid.
- Livestock policies are designed to insure against declining market prices of livestock and not any other peril. Coverage is determined using futures and options prices from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group. Price insurance is available for swine, cattle, lambs and milk. Producers decide the number of head (cwt of milk) to insure and the length of the coverage period. There are two types of plans available: Livestock Risk Protection, provides coverage against market price decline, if the ending price is less than the producer determined beginning price and indemnity is due; and Livestock Gross Margin, provides coverage for the difference between the commodity and feeding costs. If the producer determined expected gross margin is greater than the actual gross margin, an indemnity is due.
- Rainfall Index (RI) is based on weather data collected and maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center. The index reflects how much precipitation is received relative to the long-term average for a specified area and timeframe. The program divides the country into six regions due to different weather patterns, with pilots available in select counties.
- Revenue Protection policies insure producers against yield losses due to natural causes such as drought, excessive moisture, hail, wind, frost, insects, and disease, and revenue losses caused by a change in the harvest price from the projected price. The producer selects the amount of average yield he or she wishes to insure; from 50-75 percent (in some areas to 85 percent). The projected price and the harvest price are 100 percent of the amounts determined in accordance with the Commodity Exchange Price Provisions and are based on daily settlement prices for certain futures contracts. The amount of insurance protection is based on the greater of the projected price or the harvest price. If the harvested plus any appraised production multiplied by the harvest price is less than the amount of insurance protection, the producer is paid an indemnity based on the difference.
- Revenue Protection With Harvest Price Exclusion policies insure producers in the same manner as Revenue Protection polices, except the amount of insurance protection is based on the projected price only (the amount of insurance protection is not increased if the harvest price is greater than the projected price). If the harvested plus any appraised production multiplied by harvest price is less than the amount of insurance protection, the producer is paid an indemnity based on the difference.
- Vegetation Index (VI) is based on the U.S. Geological Survey's Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data derived from satellites observing long-term changes in greenness of vegetation of the earth since 1989. The program divides the country into six regions due to different weather patterns, with pilots available in select counties.
- Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) provides a risk management safety net for all commodities on the farm under one insurance policy. This insurance plan is tailored for any farm with up to $8.5 million in insured revenue, including farms with specialty or organic commodities (both crops and livestock), or those marketing to local, regional, farm-identity preserved, specialty, or direct markets.
- Yield Protection policies insure producers in the same manner as APH polices, except a projected price is used to determine insurance coverage. The projected price is determined in accordance with the Commodity Exchange Price Provisions and is based on daily settlement prices for certain futures contracts. The producer selects the percent of the projected price he or she wants to insure, between 55 and 100 percent.
Policy Endorsements and Options are available for some crop provisions that add supplemental coverage, exclude coverage or otherwise modify coverage. An endorsement or option generally must be applied for on or before the sales closing date.
Producer Obligations - Producers must:
- Catastrophic Risk Protection Endorsement (CAT Coverage) pays 55 percent of the price of the commodity established by RMA on crop losses in excess of 50 percent. The premium on CAT coverage is paid by the Federal Government; however, producers must pay a $300 administrative fee (as of the 2008 Farm Bill) for each crop insured in each county. Limited-resource producers may have this fee waived. CAT coverage is not available on all types of policies.
- High-Risk Alternate Coverage Endorsement (HR-ACE) is a privately developed product approved through the 508(h) process which allows a producer who farms both high-risk and non-high-risk land to insure the high-risk land at an additional coverage level which is lower than the coverage level on the non-high-risk land. Beginning with the 2013 crop year. The HR-ACE is available for corn, soybeans, wheat, and grain sorghum in certain counties as specified in the actuarial documents.
- See actuarial documents for other endorsements and options available to a specific commodity.
- Report acreage, and any required protection, accurately,
- Meet policy deadlines,
- Pay premiums when due, and
- Report losses immediately.
Note: Contact a crop insurance agent for information regarding your specific obligations.
Producer Expectations - Producers will receive:
- Accurate answers to questions on types of coverage,
- Prompt processing of their policy, and
- Timely payments for covered losses.
- Sales closing date - last day to apply for coverage.
- Final planting date - last day to plant unless insured for late planting.
- Acreage reporting date - last day to report the acreage planted. If not reported, insurance will not be in effect.
- Date to file notice of crop damage - for a planted crop, notice must be provided within 72 hours of discovery of damage or loss of production (but not later than 15 days after the end of the insurance period). If there is no damage or loss of production and a revenue plan of insurance is in effect, notice must be given no later than 45 days after the latest date the harvest price is released. For crops that are prevented from being planted, notice must be provided within 72 hours after the final planting date or the time the producer determines it will not be possible to plant during any applicable late planting period.
- End of insurance period - latest date of insurance coverage.
- Payment due date - last day to pay the premium without being charged interest.
- Cancellation date - last day to request cancellation of policy for the next year.
- Production reporting date - last day to report production for APH, ARH, Revenue Protection, and Revenue Protection with harvest price exclusion option.
- Debt termination date - date the approved insurance provider will terminate a policy for nonpayment.
New Policies and Policy Expansion
If an established crop policy is not available in a particular state or county, producers may request that their RMA Regional Office expand the program to their county the next crop year. They may also request insurance coverage under a written agreement, a kind of individual policy which bases premium rates on data from other counties. Producers are required to have documented experience in growing the crop, or in growing an agronomically similar crop, to obtain the agreement and written agreements must be allowed by the applicable policy. See the RMA fact sheet Requesting Insurance Not Available in Your County.
Although RMA has streamlined the process of developing new policies, much must be done before a policy can be made available nationwide, especially if it is a new type of policy or a policy on a crop which is not similar to any crop already insured. Generally, the process takes several years. Frequently Asked Questions provides information regarding new insurance policies developed under contract for RMA by private entities or privately developed 508(h) insurance products approved by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. Also see the Concept Proposals option for submitting proposals for 508(h). RMA has developed some training resources for pilot programs.
Note: Any examples are for illustrative purposes only. Contact a crop insurance agent for terms specific to your farm.
For more information, contact the Product Administration and Standards Division, 816-926-7730.