FAQ: I grow corn and soybeans, along with some hay and vegetables. I've heard USDA has a program I can sign up for which will provide coverage for crops that aren't eligible for commercial crop insurance such as fruit, vegetables, etc. Tell me about USDA's Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.
Answer: USDA's Farm Service Agency has a Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, referred to as NAP, which provides financial assistance to farmers on noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters. An eligible producer is a landowner, tenant or someone who shares in the risk of producing an eligible crop.
Beth Grabau, public relations and outreach specialist at the state FSA office in Des Moines, and Kevin McClure, chief program specialist, provide the following answers to commonly asked questions about NAP. Contact a crop insurance agent if you have questions regarding insurability of a crop in your county. For further information on whether a crop is eligible for NAP coverage, contact your local FSA office. Information is also available at www.fsa.usda.gov.
QUESTION: I was told I needed to insure my alfalfa hay crop; traditional crop insurance isn't available in my county. Is NAP coverage available for alfalfa hay? I always thought it was for fruit and vegetable crops.
Answer: The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, or NAP, provides coverage for crops for which at least the catastrophic level of insurance isn't available. In your case, since the traditional crop insurance isn't available in your county, you can obtain NAP on your hay crop. If USDA's Risk Management Agency offers coverage for a crop in the county, then NAP coverage isn't available for that crop.
While many think of NAP as providing coverage for fruits and vegetables, any crop that's commercially produced and grown for food, or planted and grown for livestock consumption, or for fiber, and crops grown under a controlled environment, such as mushrooms or floriculture crops, may be eligible for NAP coverage. Specialty crops can also be insured by NAP, such as honey and maple sap as well as value loss crops, such as aquaculture, Christmas trees, ginseng, ornamental nursery and turf grass sod.
NAP provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur as a result of natural disasters. Like traditional crop insurance, payments of indemnities by NAP are based on individual producer crop losses.
Producers should note, that past disaster legislation required that all crops of economic significance be insured for disaster program eligibility.
QUESTION: My alfalfa seeding is older, how do I know how to insure it? Under NAP would forage crops have the same sales closing date as my corn and soybean crops? What about the same crop reporting date?
Answer: When insuring or reporting forage production, FSA uses USDA Risk Management Agency definitions. To be considered alfalfa, the stand must either be pure alfalfa or a forage mixture in which 60% or more of the plant population is alfalfa. When the alfalfa plant population falls below 60% with grasses, legumes and other forages, this stand is considered an alfalfa mixture. If little or no alfalfa plants exist, and the stand consists of grasses, legumes and/or other forages, this forage type is called "other hay."
Like traditional crop insurance, each crop has a separate sales closing day. Alfalfa, clover and grasses that are intended for forage, mixed forages, rye, vetch, as well as winter wheat have a September 30, 2013 sales closing date for the 2014 crop year.
For 2014, perennial forage, fall wheat and other fall seeded small grains will have a December 15, 2013 reporting date.
Local FSA offices have a listing of crops, their sales closing dates and information about the dates the crops are to be reported. Producers should contact their local FSA office to verify the sales closing date for their crop.
QUESTION: Under NAP can Actual Production History, or APH's, be established? What is the cost, when are loss levels needed?
Answer: For most crops, FSA does allow producers to establish a production history to reflect normal production on their insured unit. These approved yields are determined using the APH of not less than the four previous consecutive crop years and not more than 10 crop years.
All applications for coverage must be filed and the service fee paid at the local FSA office by the sales closing date. Eligible producers can apply for coverage using form CCC-471, Application for Coverage. Producers must file the application and service fee by the sales closing date. The service fee is the lesser of $250 per crop or $750 per producer per administrative county, not to exceed a total of $1,875 for a producer with farming interests in multiple counties. Service fees may be waived for limited-resource producers.
FSA offices will also use the intended method of harvest when determining the service fee and the production. For alfalfa, alfalfa mixes, and other hay, is the acreage going to be mechanically harvested or grazed? Mechanically harvesting includes both for forage and seed production. Acreage that is grazed can be defined as either warm or cool season forage.
In the event of a natural disaster, NAP covers the amount of loss greater than 50% of the expected production based on the approved yield and reported acreage. Like crop insurance, losses are determined on a unit basis.
The actual crop production is used to determine the extent of the loss in the disaster year. FSA calculates normal yields by averaging the producers' actual yields over a four- to 10-year period. If at least four years of acceptable production records are not provided, a yield will be assigned, which may be lower than the actual average yield.