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Angie Peltier

Angie Peltier
Former Extension Educator, Commercial Agriculture

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Hill and Furrow

Current topics about crop production in Western Illinois, including field crops research at the NWIARDC in Monmouth.
Figure. If your corn looks like this, or if you suspect that you will sustain yield loss due to the drought, contact your insurance agent as soon as possible.

Crop Insurance Considerations

With the hot, dry weather that we have been experiencing in Western Illinois, and the lack of rain in the foreseeable forecast, crop insurance is likely on everyone's mind. If you don't have it, you likely wish you did, and if you do have it, you are likely wondering whether conditions will get bad enough that you will need to use it.

On a trip last Thursday to Brownstown, IL, at the northern edge of the southern third of the state, I took pictures of corn that will not produce grain. The field was planted right before a rain, a rain that flooded large portions of the field. Then the drought hit and has not let up (Figures). If your field looks like this, it is time to begin getting your insurance paperwork in order, to begin the claims process.

We are lucky at the Warren County Extension Office in that we share a building with Country Financial, a company that sells Federal Crop Insurance. Mr. Bob Flowers, a Financial Representative and himself a Crop Insurance customer, recently sat down with me to explain the gist of federal crop insurance.

The most common type of federal crop insurance is called Revenue Assurance. This is a federally subsidized insurance product that is based on the spring crop price and your historical or actual production history (APH) in bushels per acre for the past 8 to 10 years. You can purchase this insurance to cover anywhere from 50 to 85% of your historical yield, with the higher the coverage level, the higher the premium price. The base level of insurance costs approximately 1% of your APH and is based on the price of your particular crop at planting. Your APH can be determined based upon your average yield per county per commodity. The option to purchase insurance per field per commodity and the option to use the fall commodity prices are more expensive.

If you carry crop insurance, there are several reasons why you might need to contact your insurance agent this year:

1) You plan to green-chop some of your corn to feed your livestock - this will affect your harvestable acreage in the fall.

2) You think that you will need to make a claim due to drought-related loss.

3) You suspect that you have ear molds that may result in mycotoxin contamination.

It is best to contact your agent BEFORE harvest particularly if you fall into that third category. Mycotoxin contamination may be an insurable loss, however your ability to make a claim may change if you harvest without having contacted your insurance agent. Mycotoxin concentrations can appreciate significantly in storage and will be the topic of a future blog article.

There is an abundance of information on the cumbersome USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) website. This information is county-specific and warrants a look if you are concerned about insurance. In order to get county-specific information, go to the RMA website: Click on 'Information Browser', then 'Actuarial Information Browser', then 'Reinsurance year 2012'. You can then put in your specific information: commodity, commodity year, insurance plan, state and county. If you do this you can gain access to more information than you ever thought you needed: types/practices, unit structure, prices, T-yield, dates, rates, special provisions, subsidy factors, maps and fact sheets.

Regardless of why you make a claim, in order to make a claim, you will need to verify several pieces of information including proving your APH. To do this, you will need to dig up your settlement sheets from the grain elevator, blow off the dust, and get this information organized. This information is essential to prove your APH.

A 'Crop Insurance During a Drought' Fact Sheet was developed by the RMA for IL, IN, MI, and OH. This fact sheet includes several things that have to happen in order to make a claim and then answer many frequently asked questions.

Bottom line: 1) notify your insurance agent as soon as you feel that a loss is present,

2) continue to use best management practices (BMPs) and care for the crop to mitigate continued damage, and

3) get permission from your agent before destroying your crop, cutting your crop for silage, or allowing grazing.

Be sure to contact your agent before making any drastic decisions. There will likely be a lot of claims this year and many people putting demands on insurance representatives. If your insurance agent cannot assess your crop in a timely manner, they may make alternative arrangements such as having you leave an unharvested strip to allow for yield assessment at a later time. If your insurance agent instructs you to leave strips, it is important that you continue to use BPMs and maintain that crop to the best of your ability in order to maintain the validity of your claim.


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