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Published June 24, 2013, 09:48 AM

Busy time for crop insurers

Agents played pivotal role in area’s wet planting season

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Upper Midwest crop insurance agents always are busy during spring planting. But this spring was particularly hectic for them in areas hit by heavy rains and planting delays.

“There were a lot of conversations going on” between agents and their clients, says Michael Kozojed, an agent with Ihry Insurance in Hillsboro, N.D.

He and other area crop insurance agents say many producers will file prevented planting claims on at least some of their fields. It’s hard to estimate how many prevented planting acres there are, however, because some area farmers were able to make a final planting push in mid-June, Kozojed and others say.

Even in a normal spring, farmers consult with their crop insurance agents to make sure planting decisions mesh with the federal crop insurance program. Planting conditions were so volatile this spring, however, that many farmers needed to revamp their planting decisions, forcing repeat visits with their insurance agents.

Dan Weber, a Casselton, N.D., agent and national director of the Professional Insurance Agents of North Dakota, says farmers in his immediate area generally were able to plant their fields. He also says he knows, through conversations with other agents around the region, that many farmers weren’t so fortunate.

“It’s nothing but luck,” he says of the difference between which areas receive too much rain and which don’t.

One of the hardest-hit areas is Bowman, N.D., which received a whopping 11.3 inches of rain in May. That’s only 2 inches less than the southwest North Dakota community normally receives in an entire year.

Darren Limesand, a veteran agent with Western Frontier Insurance Agency in Bowman, says he’s never seen anything like what happened this year. Fortunately, most farmers were able to plant the majority of their fields before the moisture situation became too bad, he says.

Weber says spring rains were a big help in the Casselton area, which is near Fargo in eastern North Dakota.

Even so, “In the next two or three weeks, we’re going to need rain again,” he says. “There just isn’t the subsoil moisture we’ve been used to.”

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