WASHINGTON — The United States Department of Agriculture is authorizing emergency procedures to help agricultural producers impacted by extreme drought conditions, the agency announced on Tuesday, July 13.
USDA’s Risk Management Agency says it is working with crop insurance companies to streamline and accelerate the adjustment of losses and issuance of indemnity payments to crop insurance policyholders in impacted areas.
These new crop insurance flexibilities are part of USDA’s broader response to help producers impacted by drought, in the West, Northern Great Plains, Caribbean and other areas.
“Crop insurance helps producers weather natural disasters like drought,” RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy said. “We recognize the distress experienced by farmers and ranchers because of drought, and these emergency procedures will authorize insurance companies to expedite the claims process, enabling them to plant a new crop or a cover crop.”
Emergency procedures allow insurance companies to accept delayed notices of loss in certain situations, streamline paperwork, and reduce the number of required representative samples when damage is consistent. These flexibilities will reduce burdens on both insurance companies and producers to help mitigate drought effects.
The announcement of the new procedures comes a few weeks after Flournoy visited North Dakota, where the entire state is in drought conditions, including 11.78% in exceptional drought, the most dire category.
“Our producers are facing significant losses due to the widespread, severe drought in our region, and they need timely insurance payments to help maintain their operations and cover their costs,” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., who hosted Flournoy. “We worked to advance this guidance and additional flexibility to help ensure adjustments can be made quickly and farmers won’t face delays. We appreciate RMA Acting Administrator Flournoy for working with us on this priority and heeding the feedback provided by North Dakota’s producers.”
Producers should contact their crop insurance agent as soon as they notice damage. The insurance company must have an opportunity to inspect the crop before the producer puts their crop acres to another use. If the company cannot make an accurate appraisal, or the producer disagrees with the appraisal at the time the acreage is to be destroyed or no longer cared for, the insurance company and producer can determine representative sample areas to be left intact and maintained for future appraisal purposes. Once an insured crop has been appraised and released, or representative strips have been authorized for later appraisal, the producer may cut the crop for silage, destroy it or take any other action on the land including planting a cover crop.
Additional information on these emergency procedures is available on RMA’s Crop Insurance and Drought Damaged Crop webpage.
Producers impacted by drought may also qualify for other USDA programs, including disaster assistance programs that help offset losses as well as conservation programs that help producers build resilience to drought. Producers can learn more at farmers.gov, where they can use the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool or Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet to learn more about program or loan options.