Risk Management Agency offers more flexibility

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Federal crop insurance enjoys widespread support in U.S. agriculture. Now, the agency that administers the program has issued new policies designed to make it more flexible and help farmers utilize it during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Crop insurance will continue to support farmers through the challenges ahead, and our RMA team is here to support them" in part through the greater flexibility, said Martin Barbre, administrator of the Risk Management Agency. He talked with Agweek in a telephone intervierw March 30.

Federal crop insurance is a complicated subject, one filled with specialized terminology and acronyms. But, in general, these are the major changes announced by the agency:

  • Allowing producers to send notifications and reports electronically.
  • Extending the deadline for producers to submit production reports.
  • Providing additional time to pay and deferring interest on premiums and other payments.

Much of the Upper Midwest suffered through an extremely wet 2019 fall that hampered harvest and threatens to delay 2020 planting. Barbre told Agweek that weather-related issues didn't factor into the Risk Management Agency's decision to increase crop insurance flexibility this spring.
He also said he's proud of how agency staffers, and USDA in general, are continuing to serve agriculture during the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal crop insurance is administered by the Risk Management Agency, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program seeks to protect farmers from "unavoidable risk" associated with bad weather, crop disease and insects. Taxpayers pick up some of the cost to keep the program affordable for farmers, producers the rest. Crop insurance policies are sold and serviced through private companies.


Agency staffers are still working with companies that provide crop insurance. Farmers with specific questions or concerns should continue to work with their crop insurance agent, according to RMA.

More information on the newly announced RMA changes and USDA's response overall to coronavirus: .

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