July 1, 2024

Crop insurance options for specialty and organic growers to expand

Specialty crop and organic growers will have expanded crop insurance options beginning with the 2025 crop year.

USDA’s Risk Management Agency is expanding coverage options by allowing enterprise units by organic farming practice and adding enterprise unit eligibility for several crops, along with additional policy updates.

“The Risk Management Agency is excited to expand coverage options for specialty and organic growers including the availability of enterprise and optional units for many producers,” Marcia Bunger, RMA administrator, said in a news release. “Expanding our coverage options gives producers more opportunities to manage their risks. We will continue to build on our work through future announcements later this summer.”

green apples ripen on a tree
New crop insurance options beginning in 2025 would expand enterprise units to almonds, apples, avocado in California, among other changes. © rawpixel, 123RF Free Images

Changes in the 2025 crop year include

  • Expand enterprise units (EU) to almonds, apples, avocado (California), citrus (Arizona, California, and Texas), figs, macadamia nuts, pears, prunes and walnuts.
  • Allow non-contiguous parcels of land that qualify for optional units (OU) to also qualify for EU.
  • Allow EUs by organic farming practice for alfalfa seed, almonds, apples, avocado (California), cabbage, canola, citrus (Arizona, California and Texas), coarse grains, cotton, ELS cotton, dry beans, dry peas, figs, fresh market tomatoes, forage production, grass seed, macadamia nuts, millet, mint, mustard, pears, potatoes (northern, central, and southern), processing tomatoes, prunes, safflower, small grains, sunflower seed, and walnuts.
  • Expand OUs by organic practice to all remaining crops where OUs are available and the organic practice is insurable.
  • Walnut quality adjustment: Allow sunburned damaged walnuts to be eligible for indemnity payments through quality adjustment.
  • Almond leaf year: Expand insurance coverage to younger trees by including trees in their fifth leaf year after being set out.
  • Processing bean end of insurance period: Extend insurance coverage in Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey by an additional 16 days.

These revisions come through the Expanding Options for Specialty and Organic Growers Final Rule published by the Federal Crop Insurance Corp. This final rule will update the Common Crop Insurance Policy Basic Provisions and Area Risk Protection Insurance Basic Provisions and includes changes to individual crop provisions.

Additional changes in the June 30 Final Rule include:

  • Reduce administrative burdens on growers and the delivery system by removing written agreement requirements on new breaking acreage.
  • Reduce coverage penalties on perennial specialty crop producers and producers of intensively managed crops, such as alfalfa, when they move to row crop production.
  • Double cropping and annual forage: Clarify a producer must prove insurance history for the annual forage crop and meet the current double cropping requirements to receive a full prevented planting payment.

More changes to come

RMA will announce additional program enhancements later this summer, according to the release, including:

  • Piloting the Fire Insurance Protection – Smoke Index (FIP-SI) crop insurance program for grapes in California for the 2025 crop year. The pilot program is an index-based endorsement to the Actual Production History (APH) Grape policy that provides additional protection against smoke damage and covers the liability between the APH policy’s coverage level and 95%.
  • Expanding the Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO) to walnuts and citrus crops and increasing premium support to be consistent with the Supplemental Coverage Option.
  • Expanding the Grapevine insurance program to an additional 29 counties in California. Grapevine insurance offers protection against vine losses in the event of several named perils.
  • Releasing new Organic Practice Guidelines to producers for the 2025 crop year. These guidelines help producers report planted or perennial acreage insured under a certified organic or transitional practice.

The changes advance USDA’s Specialty Crops Competitiveness Initiative, an effort to increase the competitiveness of specialty crops products in foreign markets, enhance domestic marketing and improve production and processing practices.

Crop insurance is sold and delivered through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator.

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