Iowa field days feature new crop insurance options for diversified and specialty farms

Iowa field days feature new crop insurance options for diversified and specialty farms
Methods to protect greens from pests and critters at the diverse Genuine Faux Farm in Iowa. Photo courtesy of Genuine Faux Farm.
Methods to protect greens from critters and other pests at the diverse Genuine Faux Farm near Tripoli, Iowa. Photo courtesy of Genuine Faux Farm.

Choosing the right crop insurance is a critical decision for many farm businesses. Two upcoming Iowa field days sponsored by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) will give producers the chance to learn more about the potential benefits of the new Whole-Farm Revenue Protection crop insurance programs for diversified crop and livestock producers and those who grow specialty or organic crops.

On June 28, Jeff Schahczenski, an agricultural economist and Agriculture Policy and Funding Research Director for NCAT, will give a presentation on Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) in Bremer Count in eastern Iowa with a farm tour following. Schahczenski will return to Iowa on August 1 to discuss WFRP at a “Shop Talk” field day in Polk County in central Iowa. (More field day details, below.)

Eastern Iowa: WFRP presentation and farm tour, Sunday, June 28, 2:00-5:00 PM 

This event will begin with a presentation at the Bremer County ISU Extension office in Tripoli at 720 7th Avenue SW. After the presentation, the group will proceed to Genuine Faux Farm nearby, where Rob and Tammy Faux will host the group for a tour, more discussion, and refreshments. The event is co-sponsored by the Iowa Organic Association (IOA) with support from Bremer County Extension and Outreach.

Genuine Faux Farm is in its 11th year of operation as a small, diversified operation that features vegetable and poultry production.  Most of the vegetable production is targeted for a 120-member CSA farm share, and poultry products are sold directly to consumers. The farm adheres to organic growing principles and aims to sell product within 50 miles. The Fauxes believe in diversity.  They use intercropping techniques and cover crops and participate in on-farm research. The enterprise includes two movable high tunnels for season extension purposes.

“As the owner/operator of a small, diversified farming operation, I am curious to know how this new program for Whole-Farm Revenue Protection may or may not be appropriate for my operation. I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn along with other interested persons during this field day,” says Rob Faux, a board member of the Iowa Organic Association.

Central Iowa: WFRP Shop Talk and farm tour, Saturday, August 1, 10:00 AM to Noon 

New Family Farm's Tony Thompson gets onions ready for market. Photo courtesy of New Family Farm.
New Family Farm’s Tony Thompson gets onions ready for market. Photo courtesy of New Family Farm.

This presentation and field day will be held at New Family Farm, 12850 NE 64th St, two miles east of Elkhart, northeast of Des Moines. After a presentation by NCAT’s Schahczenski, the group will tour the farm and enjoy refreshments. This field day is co-sponsored by the Iowa Farmers Union.

New Family Farm is owned and operated by Tony Thompson, who raises vegetables and produces eggs at his family’s century farm. The farm’s products are marketed primarily through a CSA, now in its second year, and to wholesale clients. Thompson is dedicated to sustainable practices and is on the board of the Iowa Farmers Union.

Advance registration is requested for the free events, at www.ncat.org/events/. For questions about the events, contact NCAT Midwest Regional Office Director Ann Y. Robinson at annr@ncat.org.

WFRP crop insurance, created under the 2014 Farm Bill, offers a higher premium subsidy for diversified and specialty crops than previous crop insurance products.  Producers can choose coverage levels from 50 to 85 percent, similar to the levels provided for standard commodity crop policies. Iowa and other Midwest producers had their first chance to sign up for the new WFRP in early 2015. Only a small number of producers in the region opted to participate. Numbers were much greater in other areas, where similar products have been available prior to the new WFRP crop insurance program.

“We want to make sure that Midwestern farmers have the best information to consider this new program that expands insurance options for specialty crops, organic, and diversified crop and livestock producers  — or for those who want to diversify,” says Schahczenski.

All federal crop insurance is sold solely through Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs), who are required to offer the WFRP pilot program to all eligible persons in the pilot area. The signup deadline has already passed for the 2015 crop year. Signups for 2016 are expected to begin in August 2015. Producers are encouraged to contact a crop insurance agent if they want to consider this new option for the future.

A recorded webinar on WFRP is available at “The Benefits of Diversity: Another Look at Whole-Farm Revenue Protection in Iowa and Midwest.”  This program was presented by NCAT, May 21, 2015.

NCAT’s Midwest Regional Office in Iowa was awarded a Risk Management Education Partnership cooperative agreement through the RMA. More information about the WFRP pilot program is available on the USDA Risk Management Agency website at www.rma.usda.gov

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