San Patricio County Extension Agent Bobby McCool is reminding Coastal Bend livestock producers who are planning on adding protection against forage losses for the 2014 spring season that the deadline to purchase risk protection insurance is Dec. 15.
Known as the Rainfall Index – Annual Forage Insurance ( RI-AF) insurance program, the risk policy provides protection against losses due to a lack of moisture. Producers opting for 2014 spring coverage (March 1-Sept. 30) are required to purchase a policy before December 15, 2013.
AgriLife officials say RI-AF is similar to Pasture Range and Forage Insurance (PRF), but while PRF insurance provides coverage for perennial grasses such as pasture and hay, RI-AF is limited to annual forage crops. These include but are not limited to winter small grains (wheat, oats, rye, triticale, etc.) and spring plantings such as sudan, haygrazer, and millet.
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"In Oklahoma and Texas, dry spells and prolonged drought create the greatest threat of production risk for cattle producers. During dry spells and drought, available forage becomes scarce and sometimes nonexistent," says Job Springer with the Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Okla.
He says for this reason USDA's Risk Management Agency initiated the Rainfall Index-Annual Forage Insurance program.
The annual forage insurance program utilizes the Rainfall Index to determine the extent of coverage for forage crops. The Index is based on weather data collected and maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Climate Prediction Center and calculated utilizing a comprehensive grid system.
Unlike other Federal Crop Insurance area plans based on county boundaries, the Rainfall Index plan utilizes a numbered 12-mile by 12-mile grid system, an area roughly equal to 0.25 degrees in latitude by 0.25 degrees in longitude. The grids do not follow state, county or other geopolitical boundaries. Normal rainfall for each grid is based upon records that date back to 1948 and reflects how much precipitation is received relative to the long-term average for these specified areas and time frame.
"For each two-month interval, if the rainfall was below the specified percent of normal, a payment is mailed automatically to the rancher within 60 days of the end of that period." Springer notes.
Under terms of the RI-AF forage insurance program, producers can select any portion of acreage to insure. They must also choose a maximum of three, two-month intervals per growing season per year. Insured acres are then spread between time periods, with no more than 40 percent of the acres placed in any interval.
Springer says coverage levels between 70 percent and 90 percent are available. Once coverage is selected, the producer chooses a productivity factor between 60 and 150 percent. The productivity factor is a percentage of the established county base value for annual forage. Base value is a standard rate published by the Risk Management Agency for each county.
Every producer who has land used for forage production should consider using this insurance product, he said.
RI-AF policies are available for the 2014 crop year for producers in Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas. Springer says to sign up, producers should contact their local crop insurance agent.