Changes to the federal crop insurance program initiated in 2017 will continue into 2018. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) continues to improve the program, increasing its availability and effectiveness as a risk management tool while safeguarding the integrity of the program, the agency said.
In 2017, RMA noted a number of accomplishments in the areas of program integrity, program efficiency, expanded options and customer service. These accomplishments included the way RMA executes program maintenance, develops new pilot programs and makes policy changes based on feedback from stakeholders.
RMA has worked diligently since 2014 to reduce its improper payment rate. For fiscal 2017, the improper payment rate for the federal crop insurance program was 1.96%, surpassing the target error rate of 2.01%. As a result, RMA received the White House Office of Management & Budget’s approval to be removed from the improper payment “high-priority” program list.
Along the lines of program efficiency, RMA revised the conservation compliance provisions of crop insurance policies to remove the certification deadline of June 1. This revision gives producers, agents and insurance companies more time to comply with the conservation requirements established in the previous farm bill.
RMA will provide producers with the flexibility to select an enterprise unit for a single practice (e.g., irrigated or non-irrigated) and choose the most appropriate unit structure on the other practice. Previously, producers had to select enterprise units on both practices or neither. This revision allows producers to insure irrigated and non-irrigated land differently, which more accurately reflects the risks associated with these different growing practices.
RMA also enhanced its customer service offerings as it worked with approved insurance providers, agents and stakeholder groups to respond to hurricanes Harvey and Maria as well as other disasters throughout the year. Specifically, emergency procedures were issued to help streamline the claims process and respond to specific issues.
In 2002, 358 crops and types were insured, and by 2017, that number had risen to 551, RMA reported.