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Supplemental Coverage Options for Apples

Elizabeth Higgins, Business Management Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

September 12, 2018

Apple growers in New York are starting to see a new crop insurance option in some counties, Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO). I had a couple of questions about it in Ulster County last fall. Now that we are nearing time to sign up for crop insurance again, let's dig in a little deeper - what is SCO and why might you consider it?

The supplemental coverage option (SCO) is an endorsement that you can add to your underlying apple crop insurance policy (APH). It provides additional coverage that is based on an event's regional impacts to yield. Your primary apple policy pays if you suffer an insurable loss on your farm based on your policy coverage and your losses. SCO pays if the regional yield, calculated as the weighted average of policyholder yields reported to RMA in a region, falls below 86% of the expected regional yield due to an insurable event, regardless of what happens to yields on your farm. Insurable events typically include natural disasters or weather, such as flood or drought or pest infestation, that lead to lower yields or quality even when good management practices are used.

As an example, if a hail storm hits most of the farms in your region, but the damage on your farm was not high enough to trigger an indemnity payment, you would not receive an insurance payment. BUT if you had purchased the SCO endorsement, and the hail damage in your region resulted in regional yields below 86% of the area expected yield, you would receive an insurance payment, even though you personally did not have an insurance-triggering loss. In a nutshell, as you can see in Table 1, it is possible, with an SCO policy, to suffer an individual loss, but not receive an SCO payment or vice-versa.

So how do you know if SCO makes sense for your farm? In general, the degree to which your yields and yield risk match those of the SCO area is a key consideration when deciding whether to purchase an SCO endorsement. The greater the difference between your farm's yield volatility and the SCO area's yield volatility, the less likely an SCO payment will be triggered when you experience a yield loss. The size or homogeneity of the region could also have an impact. A smaller region is more likely to have an event that would result in a regional yield or revenue impact than a very large region. The size of the SCO region can vary from single county to multi county. For example, Ulster County, NY's region for fresh market, irrigated apples is just Ulster County but Washington County NY's region is 18 counties in New York, Massachusetts and Vermont.

How much does SCO coverage cost? If you have purchased less underlying insurance coverage, the SCO coverage would cost more but provide more protection. If you have purchased more coverage then the SCO coverage costs less but provides less additional protection. Figure 2 shows how the two programs work together. Also, like APH insurance, SCO coverage is subsidized by the federal government, so farmers only pay 35% of the actuarial cost of the coverage.

Let's look at some scenarios that show how adding the SCO endorsement could impact a grower in 2 regions in Eastern New York, Ulster and Washington Counties (assume the farms have the same historic yields):

2018 Ulster Irrigated Fresh Market Apples, 100 acres

  • Approved Yield: 658 bu/ac
  • Projected price $13.30/bu
  • Expected Area Yield 769.1 for SCO - region only includes Ulster County. 86% threshold is 661.4 bu/ac

2018 Washington Irrigated Fresh Market Apples, 100 acres

  • Approved Yield 658 bu/ac
  • Price $13.30/bu
  • Expected Area Yield 785.4 - includes 18 counties in NY, MA and VT[1]. 86% threshold is 675.4 bu/ac

Scenario 1: A very significant and widespread frost event results in a 51% reduction in yield on the farm, so all levels of APH insurance pay. The regional average yield after this event also declines by 51%. In this example, where the regional yields also had the same level of decline as the farm yield, you can see that having higher SCO coverage and lower APH coverage provided a higher payment.

Scenario 2: A less significant frost results in a 20% reduction in yield on your farm and regionally. You do not have enough of a loss to receive APH payments at any level of coverage, but you do receive a benefit from SCO for the difference between 86% and 80% yields. In this example, where there is widespread damage, but the level of damage on the individual farm is not high enough to result in a crop insurance payment, the SCO endorsement resulted in indemnities but not APH at any level.

Scenario 3: A hailstorm affects your farm, resulting in a 35% reduction in yield. The level of damage regionally was not enough to cause regional yields to fall below 86% of expected yield, so there is no SCO payment. In this example, you can see that for more localized events, indemnities are more likely to be triggered at higher levels of APH coverage. These types of events are also what may make SCO endorsements less likely to pay out in counties where the region is very large.

So, should you consider adding the SCO endorsement? Like any farm management decision, it depends.

  • SCO would provide more protection for your farm business if insurable events that are likely to impact your farm are as likely or are more likely to also affect other producers in your region.
  • Due to the higher coverage level than APH, SCO may help you increase the number of scenarios under which you would be likely to receive a benefit.
  • Using SCO with lower levels of APH may decrease your premium, but in exchange you are less likely to receive an indemnity for insurable events that occur on your farm but not in your region.
  • A key consideration is whether you have enough coverage to get your business back on its feet after an insurable event, at an annual cost that is affordable to your business.


Cornell University delivers crop insurance education in New York State in partnership with the USDA, Risk Management Agency. This material is funded in partnership by USDA, Risk Management Agency, under award number RM17RMETS524020


[1] Berkshire, MA; Franklin, MA; Albany, NY; Clinton, NY; Columbia, NY; Essex, NY; Fulton, NY; Rensselaer, NY; Saratoga, NY; Ulster, NY; Washington, NY; Addison, VT; Bennington, VT; Chittenden, VT; Grand Isle, VT; Rutland, VT; Windham, VT; Windsor, VT.



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Upcoming Events

Farm Financial Management Tuesdays - Planning for a Change or Exiting Your Farm Business

November 30, 2021 : Assessing the Financial Ramifications of and Options for Significant Change to Your Farm Business

The inflationary economy is upon us! The huge influx of money into the US economy following the COVID-19 pandemic has manufactured high prices and in turn increased operating costs for farm business thus forcing many businesses into net operating loss situations. Other farms are facing high labor costs or chronic labor shortages.  Some farms have taken on debt loads that make these increased costs unaffordable.  Depending on the stage in the business lifecycle, it may make sense to change enterprises or exit the farming business entirely. 

Join CCE ENYCH Ag Business Educator, Elizabeth Higgins, and CAAHP Ag Business Educator, Dayton Maxwell, for a one-hour program to learn about the financial aspects of changing or exiting a farm business. 

December 7, 2021 : The Family and Emotional Component; Shifting Business Direction and Life After Farming

As farm business enterprises are changed or disbanded, the emotional stress can be tremendous, especially when individuals and family members maintain diminished assurance relative to future security. 

Join Gabriel Gurley and Brenda O'Brien of New York FarmNet for a one-hour program focused on successfully navigating the emotional turmoil of a family farm business transition.

December 14, 2021 : New Venture Creation; Shifting Business Direction and Life After Farming

Change creates opportunity and new opportunities are certain when farm businesses change or end. 

Join Gabriel Gurley of New York FarmNet for a one-hour overview of identifying ways and means to capitalize on new opportunities resulting from farm business transitions.

 

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Remote Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Course - Dec 2021

December 8 - December 9, 2021

A grower training course developed by the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) that meets the regulatory requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) for farms subject to the Produce Safety Rule. All farms are welcome to attend to learn about recommended food safety practices for growing, handling, and storing fresh produce. Course registration fee includes a course manual and certificate of course completion by the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO).

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Tax Management for Beginning and Small Farm Businesses

January 18, 2022

Tax Management for Beginning and Small Farm Businesses.

A one-night virtual meeting for beginning and part-time farmers that provides useful tax information enabling participants to be make better tax decisions for their business.   Federal and state income taxes will be covered. Tax regulations specific to NYS will be covered as well. 


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Announcements

2021 SWD Insecticide Quick Guide

Prepare your sprayer and make sure you have the insecticides of choice on hand. Click on the following link for the revised 2021 SWD Insecticide Quick Guide: https://rvpadmin.cce.cornell.edu/uploads/doc_981.pdf

Current recommendations are to use the most effective material you can early in the spray program - even though the population seems small. The strategy is to keep the population small for as long as possible as it's very hard to gain control after the numbers have ballooned.  

USDA Offers Disaster Assistance for Producers

USDA Offers Disaster Assistance for Producers Facing Inclement Weather

Severe weather events create significant challenges and often result in catastrophic loss for agricultural producers. Despite every attempt to mitigate risk, your operation may suffer losses. USDA offers several programs to help with recovery.

Risk Management
For producers who have risk protection through Federal Crop Insurance or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), we want to remind you to report crop damage to your crop insurance agent or the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.

If you have crop insurance, contact your agency within 72 hours of discovering damage and be sure to follow up in writing within 15 days. If you have NAP coverage, file a Notice of Loss (also called Form CCC-576) within 15 days of loss becoming apparent, except for hand-harvested crops, which should be reported within 72 hours.

Disaster Assistance
USDA also offers disaster assistance programs, which is especially important to livestock, fruit and vegetable, specialty and perennial crop producers who have fewer risk management options.
First, the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that died as a result of a qualifying natural disaster event or for loss of grazing acres, feed and forage. And, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) provides assistance to producers of grazed forage crop acres that have suffered crop loss due to a qualifying drought. Livestock producers suffering the impacts of drought can also request Emergency Haying and Grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres.

For LIP and ELAP, you will need to file a Notice of Loss for livestock and grazing or feed losses within 30 days and honeybee losses within 15 days. For TAP, you will need to file a program application within 90 days.

Documentation
It's critical to keep accurate records to document all losses following this devastating cold weather event. Livestock producers are advised to document beginning livestock numbers by taking time and date-stamped video or pictures prior to after the loss.

Other common documentation options include:
- Purchase records
- Production records
- Vaccination records
- Bank or other loan documents
- Third-party certification

Additional Resources
On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help you determine program or loan options.

While we never want to have to implement disaster programs, we are here to help. To file a Notice of Loss or to ask questions about available programs, contact the Rensselaer County USDA Service Center @ 518 271 1889 ext. 2. The office is open for business, however due to pandemic restrictions all in-person visits require an appointment.


Resources from CCE ENYCHP!

We are developing new ways to connect with the CCE ENYCHP team this year! We have a Youtube page located at this link. Check out videos on Table Grape Production, Pest Updates and the 20 Minute Ag Manager - in 4 Minutes series

We have a Facebook Page here as well as an Instagram page. We keep these places updated with current projects, events, and other interesting articles and deadlines.

There are also text alerts available. Fruit and vegetable farmers in 17 Eastern NY counties can now receive real time alerts on high risk disease and pest outbreaks texted directly to their cell phone. The Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture program, which is supported by local Cornell Cooperative Extension associations, will now offer text alerts to those that enroll in our program in 2019. 

The text alerts will be reserved for important crop alerts that could impact management decisions immediately. For instance, if there were an outbreak of Late Blight in the area, this would be transmitted to vegetable growers.

Farmers can choose the crop for which they wish to receive updates. Additionally they can request that Ag Business Alerts be sent to them. These alerts might include due dates for crop insurance deadlines, market opportunities etc.

If you have questions, please contact enychp@cornell.edu


Podcasts

FSMA Updates with Gretchen Wall

August 10, 2021
In this episode, Elisabeth Hodgdon discusses news and updates related to FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule with food safety specialist Gretchen Wall. They discuss inspection schedules for the 2021 season, On Farm Readiness Reviews, water testing, new resources available for growers, and more.

Resources:
Records Required by the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, by K. Woods, D. Stoeckel, B. Fick, G. Wall, and E.A. Bihn. This fact sheet includes an explanation of required records as well as printable record templates:
https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/sites/producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/files/shared/documents/Records-Required-by-the-FSMA-PSR.pdf

Upcoming Remote, Online, and In-Person Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Courses:
https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/training/grower-training-courses/upcoming-grower-trainings/

Interactive Google map of water testing labs, created by the Northeast Center to Advance Food Safety:
https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?amp%3Busp=sharing&mid=1C8KHM6jJszj9auYQttUbVtPKtb4eEBSJ&ll=41.22288057139939%2C-78.58548244999999&z=5\

Interested in joining the Produce Safety Alliance listserv? Sign up here to receive FSMA updates, notifications of educational opportunities and new resources, and more:
https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/

Contact Information:
To schedule an On Farm Readiness Review or discuss your farm’s FSMA PSR coverage status, contact Steve Schirmer (315-487–0852 or steve.schirmer@agriculture.ny.gov), or Aaron Finley (518-474-5235 or aaron.finley@agriculture.ny.gov).

Episode speakers:
Elisabeth Hodgdon, ENYCHP vegetable specialist: 518-650-5323 or eh528@cornell.edu
Gretchen Wall, Produce Safety Alliance coordinator and Northeast Regional Extension Associate: 607-882-3087 or glw53@cornell.edu

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