He said the STAX program for cotton will not be available until the 2015 crop year but that RMA anticipated the program would be in effect and started preparing for it last year. “We will have information on STAX counties by the end of the summer,” he said. “We anticipate we will have STAX available in the vast number of cotton counties.”

A supplemental coverage option (SCO) also will be available in 2015.

“Program details and eligible counties will be available this summer.”

Beginning farmers, with less than five years in farming, also get some benefits from the new program with yield adjustments and a 10 percent reduction in insurance premium. That program begins in 2015.

Willis said a farmer’s ability to separate coverage by production practices offers another advantage. Irrigated and dryland agriculture will be considered differently for insurance coverage.

Despite crop insurance’s history of benefits to U.S. agriculture, critics remain. “We see a lot of attention on crop insurance and some see it in a negative light. Farmers are frustrated with the lack of understanding of the program.” Willis reiterated that a lot of farmers who survived the long-term droughts of the past few years may not have done so without crop insurance.

“Crop insurance has stood the test of time. It was authorized in 1938 and has changed over the years. It was improved in the 1980s.

“We have also seen a lot of farm policy changes, many designed to address a certain issue. All were good for the time. But none have had the impact of crop insurance.”

And criticism of the program is misplaced, he said. “Farmers must follow good farming practices (to be insured). They can’t receive more than 85 percent of what they would have made without a disaster. They never do better with crop insurance than if they had made the crop.”

He said crop insurance has been around for 75 years because “it makes sense. It’s a safety net for farmers and makes them more efficient.”

USDA says disaster sign-up starts April 15

He said it’s also good for consumers because it saves money. It allows farmers to invest in technology that makes them more efficient and productive. It’s good for Congress because it saves taxpayer money.

“These are good reasons why crop insurance has grown over the years.”


Also of interest:

Drought conditions improve but some areas worsening

Farmers turn to crop insurance for risk management

USDA says disaster sign-up starts April 15