The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency had its hands full this year in dealing with the year’s crop insurance issues, but the agency’s chief of staff said that’s just part of the agency’s job.
Agency chief of staff Keith Gray said the 2019 growing and harvesting season has been among the most challenging in his memory through many parts of the nation.
“It has been a challenge…a lot of farmers facing a lot of challenges with prevent-plant, and all the flooding that happened in the spring and then the late harvest this fall; the freezing temperatures for sugar beets and then some areas had drought for livestock.” Gray said. “Crop insurance has been a needed program that we’ve had this year.”
The agency has paid more than $4 billion in indemnities for prevent-plant and expect to pay more for the late harvests.
The agency has been as flexible as possible with farmers and have taken steps to make things as flexible as possible for farmers in such a challenging year, according to Gray.
He said 2012 is a year he remembers as being nearly as challenging, but that many factors came together across the country to make it difficult on a widespread basis.
The agency is reviewing how the year went in coverage, assuring that there are enough people and resources to handle problems as they arise.
“We’re looking for procedures to assure that there’s an adequate safety-net for farmers,” he said.
Gray said producers should be proactive in working with risk management issues, including going to the Risk Management Agency’s Web site (www.rma.usda.gov) to keep up with the latest coverage options and programs. The main thing is for farmers to not hesitate contacting their insurance agents immediately after losses are realized, he said.
The chief of staff said there are no questions about the commitment to cover farmers who have losses. It’s why the agency exists, he said.
“We understand this is why crop insurance is there, and we pay it when we have to,” Gray said.
Gray also said all of the agency’s programs under the 2018 Farm Bill have been fully implemented.
The full interview with Gray: