Federally subsidized crop insurance for pasture, rangeland and forage has only been around for a few years, but it has already proved to provide valuable protection for ranchers across the country.
Since then, additional policies to cover a range of risks for beef producers have been developed. Those policies are not subsidized but they do offer help for ranchers facing a variety of specific risks.
This year, a Nebraska-based insurance company, Insure My Forage, is offering a new policy against losses from wildfire on rangeland, pasture or cultivated forage.
Travis and Jessica Walker were among the agents at the 3i Show in March to talk to show visitors about the new fire-protection product as well as other coverage that Insure My Forage offers.
“We’ve seen a lot of interest in Kansas in the wake of the big fires in 2016 and 2017,” Travis said. “Ranchers know first-hand how hard recovery from fire can be.”
The fire protection plan premiums vary by region, with higher rates in fire-prone states such as California. Rates range from a low of 12.6 cents per acre up to 33 cents for $10 of coverage. There is a $100 deductible. Ranchers can choose their level of coverage.
“The idea is to be able to help farmers with expenses such as rebuilding fences or storage structures or stored feed in a timely manner,” Jessica said.
The only restrictions on eligibility for the program are that a rancher must insurance all the pastures in a given area and the insured acreage must be located in an area that has some type of fire protection service provided by a local, county, federal or private agency.
There is a 30-day waiting period for coverage to be effective.
Insurance for livestock loss
Insure My Forage also offers a product to help ranchers who experience loss of livestock due to natural disasters.
Insure My Cattle offers commercial cow herd coverage for livestock killed by specified perils. Specified perils include fire, lightning, explosion, smoke, windstorm, hail, tornado, collision with vehicle, sinkhole collapse, leakage of gas or anhydrous ammonia, contaminated water or feed, and much more.
There are also policies that cover bull accident, sickness, death, breeding soundness, equine mortality, genetic material coverage of semen and embryos, and livestock risk protection.
Kansas agent Randy Fry, who is based in Great Bend, said that also new at InsureMyForage this year is farm and ranch insurance that covers farm buildings, homes and machinery from all sorts of loss, including fire, storms, wind, etc.
Agency owner Kevin Gubbels, said that it made sense to offer products that provide beef producers peace of mind about getting timely, expedited help at a time of loss.
The federal program
The company’s first product was the federally subsidized Pasture Rangeland and Forage Insurance, which covers pastures and forage crops from losses to drought. It was part of the 2008 Farm Bill and made crop insurance for livestock available for the first time.
Coverage in that program is based on the NOAA-reported rainfall compared to the 30-year average. When the rainfall drops to 90% of the average, a payment is triggered. Payments are automatic and do not require record-keeping or claims filing. Premiums are subsidized at 51%.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize that program, which is based on the rainfall index, don’t realize it also covers forage crops like triticale or cover crops,” Fry said.
He said there are more changes coming next year from the 2018 Farm Bill that will make more coverage available, but the regulations for those changes have not been completed yet.