Jan 13 - The Federal Crop Insurance Program is expected to grow in 2014, said an Agriculture Department official at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th Annual Convention. Tim Hoffmann, director of Product Administration and Standards for the Risk Management Agency, presented to convention attendees at a workshop the reasons behind the growth of the program that farmers use to manage the risks of growing crops.
Hoffmann said USDA plans to expand the program by focusing on production history enhancements, creating a limited irrigation contract and prevented planning contract and making nursery program enhancements. USDA is also looking for new ways to use data it collects from insured farmers.
“USDA collects a huge amount of data from crop insurance,” said Hoffmann, noting that it has more data on crop plantings than the National Agriculture Statistics Service.
The Federal Crop Insurance Program covers more than 125 crops, including corn, soybeans and wheat, as well as nursery flowers, fruit and tobacco. Last year it expanded to include specialty crops like seafood, cotton seeds, as well as organic and community supported agriculture.
The program insured more than 295 million acres of crops in 2013 and 283-plus million acres in 2012. The program experienced a sharp increase in costs from last year, totaling $13.2 billion, up from $4.6 billion in 2012. Hoffmann attributed the rise to higher commodity prices and increased liability for insurers.