• 70°

Insurance deadline quickly approaching for farmers

By Adam Dodson | The Selma Times-Journal

Both the United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency and Dallas County’s Farm Service Agency are insisting farmers in rural Alabama to be aware of the upcoming Feb. 28 sales closing date to purchase insurance for Spring crops.

The seasonal sales closing dates are deadlines in order to give farmers an opportunity to purchase insurance on a variety of crops and commodities that could be impacted by a multitude of factors, mostly weather-related.

According to the USDA, over $1 billion in indemnities was collected in damages as a result of the hurricanes that ravaged farmlands across Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina the previous year.

Because of this, agricultural organizations at the national and local level went to work to ensure people in the rural community the importance of being insured in the events of these tragedies.

“The prosperity of the rural economy depends on our farmers and ranchers and their ability to bounce back from adverse conditions,” said Robert Johansson, acting deputy undersecretary for the Farm Production and Conservation department.

However, major hurricanes are not the only type of weather that could affect farming conditions and covered by insurers. Oftentimes, the weather that farmers need insurance for is milder, such as droughts or overwatered crops due to heavy rain.

According to program technician of the Dallas County and Lowndes County Farm Service Agency, Terri Watts, the two main factors affecting her area in the Black Belt are not natural disasters, but rather the simple imbalance of rainy and dry conditions throughout the counties that dates back multiple years.

“The droughts have definitely affected farmer’s crops here. There has been a drought problem this year dating back to last year and into 2016,” Watts said.

Both the government and the private sector offer farmers insurance in different forms, with larger private firms offering larger coverage for commodities, such as cotton. Smaller public firms may try to cover other needs such as vegetables, pastures, hay and others.

While the multitude of choices for the purchasing of farmers insurance would give the perception of stiff competition between the public and private sector, Watts says that both the private and public firms do a good job of working together to provide farmers with the best possible coverage to fit their needs.
“The private and public help each other out. The bigger private insurances cover a lot, while the government tries to cover the other areas. In Dallas County, there is a good balance between private and public firms.”

With only a couple days left to sign up for insurance for Spring crops, Dallas and Lowndes County farmers are encouraged to check on their insurance coverage, as they may need to strengthen or lesson their plan based on what they grow.

For the upcoming Spring, crops include cotton, soy beans, corn, watermelons, strawberries and others.