Crop insurance questions Day 2: Cover crops and group plans

By Matt Reese

Cover crops and group plans are the common source of questions about crop insurance this spring.

Most everyone knows of the water quality challenges being faced in the Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed. Last summer and fall, farmers in the area decided to step up and do what they thought was best for improving water quality and soil conservation – plant cover crops.

“There are no silver bullets in the watershed but cover crops are as close to a silver bullet as there is. There are over 7000-plus acres of cover crops in Grand Lake St. Marys,” said Chris Gibbs, with the Mercer County Farm Service Agency. “But now it looks like there could be ramifications on the subsequent crop with regard to crop insurance. I would hate to see that get a black eye here with crop insurance.”

As soggy conditions have delayed field work this spring, cover crop management has not been possible in many situations, which can put preventative planting coverage in jeopardy in some situations. Crop insurance companies and the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) have been scrambling to keep up with the huge number of questions about cover crops and preventative planting. Brian Frieden, with USDA’s Risk Management Agency, said the agency has just announced an exception this year giving producers until June 1 to terminate the cover crop prior to corn and June 10 to terminate the crop prior to soybeans.

“We had to make sure that we maintained the integrity of that program while being flexible,” Frieden said. “The main thing we would ask is that before you make a decision about anything, make sure and talk to your agent.”

Keith Summers of Leist Mercantile

Crop insurance agent Keith Summers, with Leist Mercantile in Circleville, said he has been getting questions from those who do not have preventative planting coverage.

“GRP and GRIP are the group plans that do not include preventative planting. You can buy preventative planting outside of that but those do not include it. If they bought GRP, it is a yield-only coverage that insures you against the county yield,” he said. “Next year they determine what the yield was in that county and if it falls below that trigger, than the GRP will pay. Obviously with the wet conditions the corn will suffer and could fall below those county triggers. With the GRIP, it has yield coverage plus the price protection. The prices are higher now so there is not price loss. That policy could trigger if there is a yield loss. In order for the insurance to attach, they have got to get acres in the ground. They can’t sit back and take preventative planting.”

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