When farmers talk about crop insurance, most immediately think of insurance for traditional field crops such as wheat, feed grains, oilseeds, cotton, rice, peanuts, and tobacco. Over the years, specialty crop producers are increasingly being offered and, in some cases, mandated to obtain crop insurance.

Specialty Crops

In fact, looking into the future, one of the ways the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Congress are dealing with the many issues surrounding the 2012 Farm Bill is by increasing crop insurance for a larger group of commodities, especially in the specialty crop arena.

Specialty crops are defined as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture”.

Most of what is grown in California and Arizona are considered specialty crops. California alone produces more than 300 different crops, yet at the moment, only approximately 40 of them are considered insurable. Today, some of the more common insurable crops include almonds, grapes, table grapes, raisins, stone fruit, blueberries, apples, cherries, potatoes, tomatoes, walnuts, citrus, avocados, and nursery. Specific crop insurance statistics for Arizona and California specialty crops can be found on the USDA website.

Planning for the unknown
We all know that specialty crops are vital to our health and critical components of the USDA nutrition food pyramid. At the same time, and this is commonly recognized in Farm Bill discussions, specialty crop producers also face a competitive challenge in the domestic and international marketplace. Crop insurance can help to level the specialty crop playing field reimbursing growers for losses incurred by natural and other disasters. Crop insurance raises that floor, helps producers know what the worst case scenario is and how to plan for it. With the various uncertainties facing the modern specialty crop grower, it is imperative to seek protection for your main source of farming revenue.

Affordable coverage
A relatively unknown fact is that crop insurance can be surprisingly inexpensive. In other words, crop insurance can be a great specialty crop tool and all specialty crop growers are encouraged to strongly consider it as an insurance and planning option.

We can help. There are many caveats to the various crop insurance policies and we are educated to help you gain full advantage of what is available to you. We strive to offer superb service, aim to be at the forefront of the industry and we have a history of being influential with crop insurance programs. If there is a specific specialty crop you would like more information about, or if you want to learn how to initiate the development of a program for a certain crop not listed, please contact us.

Background
Crop insurance is developed and managed by USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). The RMA and its many partners have achieved significant progress in the research and development of innovative risk management products. RMA and its public and private sector partners undertake a number of initiatives each year to increase the use of risk management products offered through the Federal Crop Insurance Company (FCIC). Two major initiatives that target specialty crop producers, underserved areas, and small/moderate-sized farms are risk management education and public awareness. RMA seeks input through consultation from insurance company representatives as new programs are studied, when recommendations are developed, and when viable alternatives are considered. A significant component of the risk management education initiative is RMA’s website, which contains a vast amount of information about risk management programs and tools available to specialty crop producers. RMA’s public website is located at www.rma.usda.gov.