Pennsylvania: Crop Insurance – Concerned About Drought Losses?

    Lack of rain and high-ish temperatures are impacting crops in several counties. A question more and more farmers are asking lately is something like – “What must I do if I suspect a crop loss on crop insurance covered acres?”

    The message for everyone with crop insurance and a suspected loss is “call your crop insurance sales agent immediately and do what they say”. It is suggested by some to get your instructions in writing. An insurance adjuster will show up, measure the crop, do some math to determine if a loss has occurred, and determine if the loss is large enough to trigger an insurance claim. It cannot be stressed enough that any suspected loss must be reported immediately.

    The stories that pull at my heart come from farmers with a loss that just misses their coverage level. Example: If I have 70% coverage level insurance and a 28% loss – I’ve lost the value of nearly 30% of my crop insurance coverage but missed an indemnity by just 2%. So, I suffer economic loss on the crop, get no indemnity payment, and still have to pay the crop insurance premium.

    Also, in a loss situation farmers may forget their crop insurance losses are based on either the projected price or the harvest price as determined by what crop insurance product they have in place. Farmers sometimes forget the price used is not our local cash price.

    With a damaged crop and a crop insurance indemnity, farmers will likely still be behind. The best outcome is to get a good harvest. Crop insurance certainly helps when trouble strikes, but it is an insurance product and as such it is not designed for returning a profit.

    Generally speaking, crop farming money was tight in 2014 and 2015. Another tight year may not be pleasant for some. Don’t forget to consider how this will impact farm suppliers that are holding unsecured credit for spring inputs. Farm financial management continues to be a high priority task.

    As a reminder for those producers that suspect they have a crop loss:

    • Contact your crop insurance agent for information regarding your specific obligations.
    • Notice must be provided within 72 hours of discovery damage or loss of production (but not later than 15 days after the end of the insurance period).
    • If there is no damage or loss of production and a revenue plan of insurance is in effect, notice must be given no later than 45 days after the latest date the harvest price is released.
    • Best Management Practices for crop care should continue until your crop insurance professionals tell you otherwise.

    A few important crop insurance dates to remember:

    August 31
    End of insurance period – Winter wheat, winter barley

    September 30
    NAP and Sales Closing Date/Policy change deadline – Fall seeded grain and APH forage production
    LGM Sales Date – LGM Dairy and LGM Swine

    October 20
    End of coverage period – Corn insured as silage

    October 28
    LGM Sales Date – LGM Dairy and LGM Swine

    November 15
    Acreage reporting deadline – Fall seeded forage seeding
    APH forage production
    Sales Closing Date – Pasture, Rangeland, Forage (PRF)

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