Federal crop insurance rates discounted

Growers can receive a break on federal crop insurance fees this year. USDA has authorized Crop1 Insurance to sell federal crop insurance for the 2003 growing season at rates exclusively discounted up to 10% from the government's standard crop insurance rates. Crop1's insurance plan is called the Premium Discount Plan (PDP) and is available through the company's 250 ag professionals located at farm supply cooperatives, ag retailers, grain marketers, professional farm management companies and financial institutions.

The reduced insurance rates come from a provision in the Federal Crop Insurance Act intended to increase competition in the crop insurance industry. According to Crop1, if an insurance provider can provide insurance more efficiently than the expense reimbursement amount established by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, that provider may reduce the premium charged. This provision allowed Crop1 to receive the USDA approval.

Crop1 is the first company to apply for the premium discount for growers and is the only one offering the discount for 2003. The lower insurance rates are available in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and North Dakota. All federal crop insurance plans, except Catastrophic Crop Insurance, are eligible for the discount.

For more information, contact Crop1 at 866/765-0552, or visit www.crop1ins.com to locate a local Crop1 insurance member.

Insurance for nutrient-correct fields

Unusual weather conditions can make soil nutrients less available to crop roots, reducing yields and farmer income. To compensate, many farmers apply extra fertilizer, above what is called for by Best Management Practices (BMPs). It's a crude form of insurance. But during a normal year, that extra fertilizer often goes unused by the crop, increasing input costs and creating a potential environmental liability.

Now a pilot insurance policy protects growers who follow BMPs on their cropland against yield losses. Called the Nutrient BMP Endorsement, the policy was released by the USDA and is expected to increase profits for corn growers up to 20%. Nutrient BMPs are designed by experts to save growers money by properly crediting nutrients already in the soil, in manure or in legume crops. The policy is designed to encourage the use of nutrient BMPs and discourage overapplication of fertilizer.

Corn farmers in Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin may purchase the policy for the 2003 season. The corn fields must be nonirrigated, rotated fields and also insured under MPCI or CRC policies. The insurance includes a 5% deductible, and a loss of more than 5% triggers an indemnity. It will cost from $5.65 to $9.39/acre and deliver an average net savings of up to $25/acre. Growers may insure all or just a portion of their acres.

Agflex and the Agricultural Conservation Innovations Center, a project of American Farmland Trust, prepared the policy. For more information, contact Agflex at 608/232-1528, or visit www.agflex.com.