Devastating Wind Damage Illustrates Need for Crop Insurance

Days ago Nebraska farmers were looking at a bumper crop, now some have seen any chance at profitability gone with the wind.

Insurance agent Todd Anderson of York rode along with a farmer recently. When they started, the yield monitor showed 265 bushels of corn an acre. After the wind, it was down to 175 bushels.

He said, “You’ve got a year’s worth of effort and expense into the crop and you’re literally seeing it fall off in front of you in the combine.”

What a change from just a few weeks earlier, when it looked like a bin buster.

“The old saying you don’t have it until it’s in the bin definitely came true this year,” Anderson said.

It shows why people buy crop insurance. Federally backed policies may kick in, under certain conditions.

Anderson said, “The federal crop insurance will cover it if the yields drop low enough. They’re usually 75% level, there’s a threshold if yields drop low enough they will cover it. Otherwise they have to take a private product and wind is an option.”

An agent from northeast Nebraska says 90 percent of her clients with wind coverage have claims.

Jacque Giese of VO Enterprises in Beemer said, “We’ve heard stories of the field started producing 190 and they got to the end of the day and it was 80.”

The USDA had expected Nebraska farms to yield on average 181 bushels an acre, and certainly some well-irrigated areas will be much higher.

Perky Rother of Pathway Insurance in Cairo said some fields that were averaging 250 bushels were down to 180. He said managing risk is critical, and this is another reminder.

He said, “Just got so much money tied up in these crops with what we’re doing now. Lending institutions are wanting them to have revenue or multi peril coverage.”

From Cairo to Beemer, crop insurance agents say wind could claim a third of the crop for some farmers.

And Giese said without insurance, they’d have nothing.

She said, “They’ve still got to pay bills for next year and I’m not really sure how they would be paying those bills without these products out there.”

A Nebraska Extension seminar held Wednesday in Grand Island highlighted possible changes to crop insurance.

Todd Anderson said, “Whenever the farm bill comes around, we get nervous because we’ve got a huge debt, the nation does, they’re looking to make cuts somewhere.”

These agents say congress needs to protect that safety net that helps farmers in times like this.

“Farming is unlike any other job where you might not get paid and you put in more hours than the typical 9-5,” Giese said.

Growers will want to check the fine print in their policies. Anderson said some cover wind only until October 15, which would be just before the wind storms hit.


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