Insurance Options for Farms
Managing the Sustainable Farm’s Risks with Insurance
This guide from Farm Commons explores the risks that often materialize on farms – crop damage and livestock loss, property damage, and injuries to guests, customers, farmers, or employees – and reviews insurance options to help farmers protect their business, reputation, and peace of mind.
The USDA provides several types of insurance that can be of value to Massachusetts farmers:
- Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP)
This relatively new insurance option (included in the 2014 Farm Bill) is especially well-suited for farms that are diversified and use a point-of-sale system to track product sales. Whole Farm Revenue Protection allows growers to protect up to 85% of their expected income for all the crops and livestock grown or raised on their single farm – not just for a specific crop. Up to 80% of the premium may be paid by the government, and the insurance provides growers with protection from low yield, declining market prices during the insurance year, or other unavoidable threats to their revenue. Insurance must be purchased through an insurance agent. Find details on the USDA’s website here and on NSAC’s website here, and estimate costs to your farm here. Contact an agent as soon as possible if you would like more information
- Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP)
NAP Insurance is available through local Farm Service Agency offices. Growers may purchase up to 65% yield protection and 100% price coverage on almost all commercially produced agricultural crops for which traditional crop insurance is not available. This includes crops grown for food, forage crops, mushrooms, floriculture, honey, maple syrup, Christmas trees, ginseng, nursery, biomass, etc. (check with FSA for exact eligibility). Catastrophic coverage for beginning farmers, women, limited resource, and social disadvantaged farmers is available at no cost with buy-up coverage at a reduced rate (less than three cents for each dollar of protection).
- Crop specific insurance
Traditional crop insurance covers several major crops in our region such as apples. See the most recent fact sheets on programs for apples, corn, peaches, nursery crops, and other crops here. Find an insurance agent to see if these programs are a good fit for your farm. (note: to find an agent at this link, you must click on “Show Filters,” set the default distance field to “No Limit,” and set the “Licensed In” field to your county).
Crop Insurance for Organic Producers
The USDA Risk Management Agency has gathered resources on crop insurance available to organic farmers. RMA offers coverage for certified organic acreage, transitional acreage, and buffer zone acreage.
Crop Insurance Improvements for Beginning, Limited Resource, and Socially Disadvantaged Farms
See details on benefits in the 2014 Farm Bill for beginning farmers, farmers with limited resources, micro-loans from the FSA, and more. See a press release on these changes here.
Insurance for Livestock Farms
Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage Program
An insurance plan, first implemented nationwide in 2015, that covers pastureland and forage crops, using a rainfall index to determine losses and trigger payments in drought years.
The Dairy Margin Protection Program
This program offers dairy producers: (1) catastrophic coverage, at no cost to the producer, other than an annual $100 administrative fee; and (2) various levels of buy-up coverage.