As water availability declines in Texas, crop insurance coverage may see adjustments in premium increases and possibly some irrigated fields that may become uninsurable if producers can no longer expect adequate water.

Drought has had a devastating effect on Texas agriculture, says Phil Hamilton, risk management specialist with the USDA-Risk Management Agency. Hamilton addressed the Texas Plant Protection Association annual conference recently in College Station.

Hamilton works out of the Oklahoma City office and covers Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. He’s been with the agency for a year and says 2011 was as hard an indoctrination as one could imagine. He said the severity of the drought, especially in Texas, put agency personnel under extraordinary stress to handle claims in as timely a manner as possible and to provide answers for farmers who needed to divert irrigation water from one field or one crop to another.

“A lot of things worked differently this year because of the drought,” he said. In a lot of cases decisions had to be made based on “what a reasonable producer would do.”

He also recommended that farmers who find themselves in similar situations in the future follow some basic guidelines to make certain they don’t jeopardize insurability. “Staying in close contact with the insurance provider is crucial,” he said. Also, adhering to timelines to make claims and providing adequate supporting documentation may be the difference between collecting an indemnity and forfeiture and still having to pay the premium.