Double-crop soybeans

Double-crop soybean insurance update

By Matt Reese

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) recently announced its expansion of double crop insurance opportunities for soybeans in at least 681 counties nationwide. The new expansion covers virtually all Ohio counties, allowing farmers to reduce the economic risk associated with growing two crops on the same land in the same year. 

The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) met with representatives from RMA in June to discuss the impact an expansion like this could have on farmers. OSA supports the new measures.

“We are thankful that the Biden Administration has followed through on a promise it made to expand double crop insurance coverage back in May,” said Patrick Knouff of Shelby County, OSA President and soybean farmer. “Now, even more Ohio farmers can implement double-cropping while mitigating significant financial risk. This has been an OSA priority for several years, and our board pushed for such an expansion to be included in national policy priorities.”

RMA is expanding double-crop insurance opportunities nationwide in over 1,500 counties where double-cropping is viable. A number of Ohio’s counties now have new options for insuring double-crop soybeans.

“We have known about this for a while now. Many of the counties we serve already have double-crop insurance available, mostly counties south of I-70 and a few along the lake,” said Keith Summers with Leist Mercantile based in Circleville. “I’m glad RMA is making it available. Most all of our wheat producers double-crop. Those acres can be the most profitable on the farm.”

There are still some details about the newest changes that are up in the air.

“Agents won’t get details about the expansion until our fall training sessions in August. I assume it will work like the existing counties — double-crop acres can be insured separately from first crop beans. Farmers will need to keep double-crop production records separate,” Summers said. “If a farmer has been planting double-crop beans in the past, using that production history may be helpful if they are allowed to use it. The current policy uses a final plant date of July 5. After that they lose 1% per day.”

The RMA announcement came in mid-July as a part of ongoing efforts from the Biden Administration to facilitate more domestic food production in the wake of the Ukraine conflict.  

“USDA is making good on one of those commitments and making it easier to plant double-crops and sharing some of the financial risk by making crop insurance more available in over 1,500 counties,” said Tom Vilsack USDA Secretary. “We live in a challenging time, but I put my trust in the American farmer and U.S. agriculture to help keep the food we need affordable and available. The Biden administration and USDA will continue to find ways to ease burdens on American farmers and lower costs for American families such as expanded double-crop options through crop insurance.”

Changes with regard to double-crop soybeans include:

  • For soybeans, double-crop coverage will be expanded to or streamlined in at least 681 counties, including all of those that were initially targeted for review. While some additional counties were permanently added to be double-crop counties, the majority of expansion removed barriers such as requiring production records and streamlined the process to get personalized coverage through a written agreement.
  • RMA will also work with the crop insurance industry and farm organizations to highlight the availability and improvements in written agreements as an option for any farmer that grows a crop outside the area where a policy is automatically offered.

The Ohio counties in green will provide more written agreement flexibility including waiving history requirements or other flexibilities. In these counties, producers will not be required to have previous double-cropping history to obtain a written agreement for insurance. Additionally, in certain areas, a blanket written agreement may be available which further reduces the administrative burden for producers, agents, and AIPs. In general, this means a written agreement offer is available without a significant underwriting review. RMA will continue to work with stakeholders over the next few months to provide additional details on these flexibilities.

This permanent expansion means that in the county soybeans following another crop are insurable. For example, a producer may plant a crop such as wheat, insure the wheat and then follow it with soybeans or grains sorghum which are also insurable. A written agreements is the process a producer can go through to obtain individual crop insurance coverage in a county where soybeans and grain sorghum are not insurable after a first crop. The producer will work with their agent and Approved Insurance Provider (AIPs) to obtain coverage. AIPs and crop insurance agents are familiar with the written agreement process as it has long been a way producers in certain counties can obtain coverage when it is not permanently available for their specific crop or practice.

This expansion of coverage was guided by extensive outreach to nearly 70 grower groups covering 28 states. This includes a wide array of stakeholders such as producers, agents, university extension and other agricultural experts, commodity associations, state departments of agriculture and insurance companies. USDA may add additional counties as it explores these options with farmers this summer, with the final rules being locked in by the fall. Since farmers need to plan ahead for adding a winter crop to a rotation, USDA wanted to make sure they had time to consider this option and consult with local Extension and agriculture experts and their crop insurance agent.

Additional resources released by USDA include frequently asked questions as well as the Helping Farmers Address Global Food Insecurity webpage on farmers.gov. For further details about this expansion, contact your crop insurance broker or visit www.soyohio.org/doublecrop.

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