Should Asian soybean rust become a problem this year, many farmers will protect their crop with fungicide. A second level of protection against yield loss also is available, but only for a limited time.
Crop insurance can cover losses caused by soybean rust, says George Patrick, a Purdue University agricultural economist. The deadline for purchasing insurance for spring-planted crops like soybeans is March 15, he says.
Insuring soybeans against rust could be a bargain, at least for the coming season, Patrick says. Since soybean rust is new to the United States, "the premium rate does not reflect the added risk of the rust that we may be facing," he says.
Like other disease, insect and weed threats, crop insurance will cover yield losses related to soybean rust only if a farmer has made an attempt to stop the crop-damaging fungus, Patrick says.
"Insured producers are expected to use good farming practices and follow the recommendations of agriculture experts to control this fungus," says Risk Management Agency (RMA) Administrator Ross J. Davidson, Jr.
Producers should also talk with their crop insurance agent about complying with the terms of their crop insurance policy, advises Davidson. While disease is an insured peril under the Federal Crop Insurance Program, damage due to the insufficient or improper application of available disease control measures is not. In all cases, it is important for insured producers to document what actions they took to combat this disease.
Failure to purchase and apply adequate control measures due to economic reasons is not an insurable cause of loss.
Under the terms of the Common Crop Insurance Policy, a practice is considered a good farming practice if agricultural experts agree that the production method used will allow the crop to make normal progress toward maturity and produce at least the yield used to determine the production guarantee. Following good farming practices also applies to Group Risk Plan and Group Risk Income Protection policyholders.
Insured producers should follow developments as to the identification and spread of Asian soybean rust disease, and continue to stay informed and updated concerning appropriate treatments that may apply to their situation. Appropriate treatment may vary from timing of application (pre- or post-discovery of the disease), frequency, and choice of chemical or other determining factors. If crops become infected, discovery of the disease and any recommendations received regarding the application of appropriate control measures must be documented.
For an insured producer to receive an indemnity, insurance providers must verify that losses are unavoidable due to naturally occurring events and that producers followed good farming practices. This is true for all insured producers regardless of their plan of insurance: individual or group, production or revenue.
Information about Asian soybean rust control measures may be obtained from plant pathologists in agriculture departments of State governments, universities, and USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service who are familiar with the risks of exposure to this disease.
For more information regarding good farming practices and crop insurance protection against Asian soybean rust, please see the crop policies area on the RMA Web site.