Pa. Agriculture Secretary Touts Benefits of Crop Insurance

October 25, 2002

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Sam Hayes kicked off a 2002-03 crop insurance education and outreach program at the behest of Gov. Mark Schweiker during the third annual Crop Insurance Conference in Harrisburg.

“Pennsylvania farmers are faced with increased market- and weather-related risk and need access to a crop-insurance program that reflects production aspects unique to Pennsylvania,” Secretary Hayes said. “This conference provides those who advise farmers on their risk-management needs a chance to revise crop-insurance educational curriculum and develop promotional tools that will increase crop-insurance enrollment and strengthen the agricultural economy in Pennsylvania.”

The annual conference is co-sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, Penn State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency. It gives cooperative-extension agents, insurance agents, USDA Risk Management Agency officials and agriculture professionals an opportunity to discuss current crop-insurance topics and to plan the educational needs of producers to increase participation in crop insurance.

As part of the recent crop-insurance reform movement, the Department of Agriculture seized the opportunity to raise the awareness of the need for crop insurance. Before the agency’s involvement, national insurance policies were not inviting for Pennsylvania’s diverse agriculture. To help guide the needed changes, Secretary Hayes formed a Pennsylvania Crop Insurance Task Force and worked with farmers, agriculture economists, national insurance companies and the Risk Management Agency to forge a crop- insurance program that would be more reflective of Mid-Atlantic cropping systems.

To emphasize the importance of risk management, the Department of Agriculture, working with cooperative extension and the agribusiness community, conducted over 70 outreach meetings in 2001 that were attended by approximately 4,000 farmers prior to this spring’s planting season. Crop- insurance participation among Pennsylvania farmers increased 19 percent from 2001 to 2002. The Department of Agriculture and Secretary Hayes received national recognition for initiating the reform movement. To expand the coverage to more eligible acres and crops, the Department of Agriculture has worked with crop-insurance companies and the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to expand the availability of existing policies and develop more effective policy provisions such as Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR).

To purchase insurance for crop year 2003, farmers may sign up with their local crop-insurance agent. The deadline for signup for this year’s fall planting was Sept. 30. The deadline for tree and vine crops is Nov. 20. Farmers eligible for the AGR program have until Jan. 31, 2003, to sign up. The deadline to sign up for next spring’s planting is March 15, 2003. Multi-peril crop insurance is available for at least one commodity in every county in Pennsylvania. A total of 21 different crops are represented across the state. For additional information regarding the Crop Insurance Assistance Program, contact the Department of Agriculture at (717) 787-2376 or the PA PowerPort at www.state.pa.us, PA Keyword: “agriculture.” Please check with your local crop insurance agent regarding your specific crop-insurance policy requirements. A list of agents can be obtained at www.rma.usda.gov.

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