USDA’s Risk Management Agency is working with crop insurance companies to streamline and accelerate the adjustment of losses and issuance of indemnity payments to crop insurance policyholders in impacted areas. These new crop insurance flexibilities are part of USDA’s broader response to help producers impacted by drought in the West, Northern Great Plains, Caribbean and other areas.
“Crop insurance helps producers weather natural disasters like drought,” says RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy. “We recognize the distress experienced by farmers and ranchers because of drought, and these emergency procedures will authorize insurance companies to expedite the claims process, enabling them to plant a new crop or a cover crop.”
Emergency procedures allow insurance companies to accept delayed notices of loss in certain situations, streamline paperwork, and reduce the number of required representative samples when damage is consistent. These flexibilities will reduce burdens on both insurance companies and producers to help mitigate drought effects.
Producers should contact their crop insurance agent as soon as they notice damage, RMA says. The insurance company must have an opportunity to inspect the crop before the producer puts their crop acres to another use. If the company cannot make an accurate appraisal, or the producer disagrees with the appraisal at the time the acreage is to be destroyed or no longer cared for, the insurance company and producer can determine representative sample areas to be left intact and maintained for future appraisal purposes.
Once an insured crop has been appraised and released, or representative strips have been authorized for later appraisal, the producer may cut the crop for silage, destroy it or take any other action on the land including planting a cover crop.
Additional information on these emergency procedures is available on RMA’s Crop Insurance and Drought Damaged Crop webpage.
Producers impacted by drought may also qualify for other USDA programs, including disaster assistance programs that help offset losses as well as conservation programs that help producers build resilience to drought. Producers should visit farmers.gov, where they can use the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool or Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet to learn more about program or loan options.
Another week of hot, dry weather in the Pacific Northwest, Northern Rockies, Northern Plains, and Upper Midwest led to the expansion of drought conditions, according to the latest U.S. drought monitor released July 8.
Drought expanded in parts of Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska that missed out on the heaviest rainfall. Soils remain dry with USDA reporting that 92% of South Dakota and 76% of North Dakota’s topsoil moisture is short to very short, leading to limited hay production and stunted crop growth. Land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program has been opened to haying and grazing.
With nearly all of the Oregon experiencing dryness or drought, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reports as of July 4 that 84% of the state’s topsoil moisture is short to very short, significantly impacting forage production. The data show that the state’s rangeland and pasture conditions are far worse this year when compared to all other years this century.
In Idaho, which saw expansions in D1-D3 drought categories, the state drought monitoring team noted that the Big Lost River is almost out of storage and priority water use is limited to early 1884 priorities.
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