This is Part 1 of a five part series to address crop insurance questions and concerns as they relate to late and preventative planting options. Check back over the next week to see questions addressed by local crop insurance agents.
By Matt Reese
With record-breaking rainfall totals for Ohio, planting efforts continue to be mired around the state as we near June. Each rain cloud that rolls in brings up more questions about crop insurance coverage and tough decisions that will have to be made in the next couple of weeks.
By May 23, things were dire in most of Ohio.
“We’ve got 5% of our corn and 2% of our beans planted,” said Roger Zeedyk, who farms in Defiance County. “The big talk around here now is not planting, it’s crop insurance. Preventative planting will be a big thing in this area this year unless things change soon. A lot of people are talking with their insurance reps.”
A number of questions are arising based on specific situations. Cover crops, alternative crops planted after insurance is claimed on corn that was not planted, and whether preventative planting acres count in county yields for yield-based crop yield coverage are just a few of the questions being raised.
The crop insurance industry has questions too. Just how bad will things get?
The state only has 11% of the corn crop planted according to the latest USDA numbers. And while Ohio has had one of the worst 2011 planting seasons in the country, a cold spring followed by heavy, constant rain and flooding in the Corn Belt has resulted in extensive planting delays across the U.S. The widespread heavy rains and flooding along the Mississippi have made crop insurance a hot topic nationwide.
According to estimates by National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS), there is at least $110 billion worth of crop insurance liability this year, the largest amount in U.S. history as farmer participation in crop insurance continues at historically high levels. In fact, in 2010, nearly 80% of the U.S. crop — 256 million acres of farmland — were protected by crop insurance.
“The advantage of protecting our farmers with crop insurance is that when Mother Nature strikes as she is doing this year, it will be private industry working with USDA to ensure that we maintain financial stability for our agricultural production sector,” said Tom Zacharias, NCIS president. “The crop insurance industry is deeply concerned about the recent flooding situations and damage to this year’s crop. At this time, it is too early to tell how severe the damage will be, but in partnership with USDA, the industry stands ready to assist insured farmers in assessing the damage to their crops and farmland.”
*Everyone’s farm is different so check with your crop insurance agent to discuss what options apply to your farm’s situation.