Hay and Pasture Insurance Expands to all of New York in 2011

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker announced Wednesday that USDA Risk Management Agency is expanding crop insurance coverage statewide for hay and pasture in the 2011 growing season. Last year, USDA had a pilot program for hay and pasture in only 15 counties. Producers interested in 2011 crop insurance coverage of hay and pasture must sign up by Sept. 30, 2010.

"Hay is an essential crop for dairy and livestock farmers in New York," the Commissioner said. "I appreciate USDA expanding its pilot program to offer hay and pasture insurance for all of New York state next year, and encourage our farmers to consider this opportunity. Insurance premiums are affordable and insurance payments can help producers purchase replacement feed if a drought reduces their hay and pasture production."

The program, officially called the Pasture, Rangeland, Forage - Rainfall Index or PRF-RI, allows producers to insure their hay crop or pasture against drought. When less than normal precipitation occurs, insured producers may receive a payment based on the difference in historical data for their location and rainfall during the insured time interval.

PRF-RI is considered a group risk policy, covering livestock grazing and hay land based on a rainfall index for the area in which it falls. Historical data from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center is used to create a long-term average number for a specific area. Then, current precipitation data is used to create an index that reflects current over normal rainfall. For example, if a producer insures their hay for 90% or less of normal rainfall, and the rainfall in May and June is only 50% of normal, then the producer receives a payment. No yield reporting is required, nor do loss adjusters visit the farm.

Producers must purchase crop insurance from a licensed crop insurance agent. To find a crop insurance agent, producers should can visit the USDA RMA website for a list of registered agents or call the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets for a list of agents working in New York state at 800/554-5401.

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