California Commissioner Asks Farmers to Review Insurance

December 11, 2009

California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner today announced that due to the recent frost warnings issued throughout the San Joaquin Valley, farmers should take a close look at their crop insurance policies to make sure they are up-to-date and offer enough protection. He also encouraged those farmers who may have problems processing claims to call 1-800-927-HELP and talk with a California Department of Insurance representative.

“What I’ve heard so far is that farmers through much of the Central Valley have escaped a lot of damage so far, and that’s great,” Commissioner Poizner said. “But all it takes is a particularly cold front to turn a normal harvest into a disaster. I am committed to making sure California’s agricultural community stays safe and continues to provide the world with first-class agricultural products and contributing to California’s robust economy.”

California Citrus Mutual estimates that Valley growers spent more than $4 million on frost protection Monday night alone, running irrigation water and an estimated 17,000 wind machines. The first of three storms is expected to reach California by late Thursday, which would reduce the duration of the sub-freezing temperatures, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

Recent freezing temperatures are the result of a huge swing in the jet stream that brought a cold air mass from the Arctic Circle and settled over the Central Valley, NWS said. But with the series of storms on the way, and rain expected through Sunday, farmers may have escaped prolonged frost damage.

The last big frost that crippled the Valley’s agricultural industry occurred in Jan. 2007 when an estimated $1.4 billion was lost. The citrus industry was particularly hard hit, suffering an estimated $817 million in losses — or 58 percent of total agricultural losses. These figures represented losses 40 percent higher than originally thought.

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