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USDA expands whole-farm revenue protection

Livestock producers can insure up to $1 million worth of animals and animal products.

Ramping up a pilot program first conducted in 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is enhancing the program in 2016 as well as offering it to every county in the country.

"Whole-Farm Revenue Protection insurance allows producers who have previously had limited access to a risk management safety net, to insure all of the commodities on their farm at once instead of one commodity at a time," said USDA deputy secretary Krysta Harden. "That gives them the option of embracing more crop diversity on their farm and helps support the production of a wider variety of foods."

Harden said the program isn’t for everyone, but does offer a unique option for those producers who grow different commodities to manage their portfolio. She added the first year showed more flexibility was needed and this year those changes include improvement that will benefit beginning farmers and ranchers, livestock producers and those looking to expand operations.

Specifically for beginning farmers and ranchers, the Risk Management Agency reduces the records required to participate in the program from five to three historical years, plus farming records from the past year. Additionally, any beginning farmer and rancher may qualify by using the former farm operator's federal farm tax records if the beginning farmer or rancher assumes at least 90% of the farm operation.

For livestock producers, RMA removed the previous cap that limited participants to those who received 35% or less of their income from livestock production. Producers will now be able to insure up to $1 million worth of animals and animal products. Harden explained this will benefit more small and mid-sized producers.

RMA also increased the cap on historical revenue for expanding operations to 35% from its previous 10% to better allow growing farms the opportunity to cover their growth in the insurance guarantee.

Whole-Farm Revenue Protection includes a wide range of available coverage levels, provides coverage for replanting annual commodities, includes provisions that increase coverage for expanding operations, and allows the inclusion of market readiness costs in the coverage. The policy is tailored for most farms, including farms with specialty or organic commodities (both crops and livestock), or those marketing to local, regional, farm-identity preserved, specialty, or direct markets. The policy covers farms or ranches with up to $8.5 million in insured revenue.

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.

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.  

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