Published Jul 10, 2013

CSA as Insurance

By Drake Larsen

This entry was originally published by Grinnell Heritage Farm in their weekly CSA newsletter – written by Andy Dunham.

Last week Andy traveled to Kansas City to represent Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) and Grinnell Heritage Farm at a Risk Management Agency (RMA) meeting about specialty crop insurance. RMA is part of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is responsible for many crop insurance programs, including those for corn and soybeans which are backed by the federal government. RMA has also designed a few specialty crop (think fruits, nuts, and vegetables) and whole farm (protecting revenue) insurance products. The purpose of the meeting last week was to discuss improving the plans currently available and perhaps working out the framework for some useful and responsible new insurance options. Currently there are no specialty crop insurance plans widely available in Iowa (you can talk to private insurers and potentially write a policy, but as there is scant data to work with it is not very easy or affordable) and none of the whole farm insurance products is available here. We would like for there to be some sort of catastrophic protection, as it is, if we were to be hit by a tornado or similar event we have no coverage for any crops in the field. No such plan exists currently, but the folks at RMA seemed to be listening. Part of the discussion focused on the fact that as a CSA farm we tend to fall into a low risk category because we, in a way, have “insurance” from you, our shareholders. The diversity of crops we grow as a CSA farm insulates us from certain pest and weather risks and the steady income from share purchases insulates us from some financial risks. Thank you for providing such a great policy, RMA can only dream of such coverage.