Farm bill initiative provides more severe weather relief

by Jeff Gelski
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WASHINGTON — A new farm bill initiative announced Oct. 21 by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will provide relief to farmers affected by severe weather, including drought. Starting next spring the Actual Production History Yield Exclusion will allow eligible producers affected by severe weather to receive a higher approved yield on insurance policies through the federal crop insurance program.

Spring crops eligible for the exclusion include corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, grain sorghum, rice, barley, canola, sunflower, peanuts and popcorn.

Farmers will be allowed to exclude yields in exceptionally bad years from their production history when calculating yields to establish their crop insurance coverage. The level of coverage is based on the farmer’s average recent yields. Previously, a year of low yields that occurred because of severe weather would reduce the level of insurance coverage available to the farmer.

Excluding unusually bad years means a natural disaster will not reduce insurance coverage for farmers for years to come. Under the new farm bill program, yields may be excluded from farm actual production history when the county average yield for that crop year is at least 50% below the 10 previous consecutive crop years’ average yield.

“Key programs launched or extended as part of the 2014 farm bill are essential to U.S.D.A.’s commitment to help rural communities grow,” Mr. Vilsack said. “These efforts give farmers, ranchers and their families better security as they work to ensure Americans have safe and affordable food. By getting other 2014 farm bill programs implemented efficiently, we are now able to offer yield exclusion for spring 2015 crops, providing relief to farmers impacted by severe weather.”

The Risk Management Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide additional program details in December.
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