2021 Producers Underserved by Crop Insurance Projects

1.2021 Risk Management Education for West Virginia Beginning and Veteran Farmers
Project Director: Lisa Jones (lisa.lagana@mail.wvu.edu)
Co-Project Director: Adeola Ogunade (adeola.ogunade@mail.wvu.edu)
West Virginia University
Award Amount: $87,216

This project will help small veteran and beginning farmers in West Virginia manage production and marketing risks through the understanding of crop insurance programs and risk management concepts.

Livestock and specialty crop producers are underserved by federal crop insurance in West Virginia. WVU Extension Service Agents with previously established relationships with farmers and experience educating the local community will be included in outreach and teaching. Our Evaluation Specialist will assist with surveys, using data to tailor programming, evaluating our impact, and contributing to greater understanding of the project outcomes.

We will conduct four webinars, three on-farm workshops, two in-person classes, and one six-week online educational training via Moodle, a learning management system. Topics will include crop insurance policies, reporting deadlines, relationship building with insurance agents, and how programs can manage farm risks.

An estimated 100 producers will be served through webinars, classes, and workshops. Additional 200 individuals are expected to access online resources produced. A multi-page crop insurance guide for West Virginia will be developed and distributed. Outreach and promotional efforts include social media posts, farm magazine articles, electronic newsletters, and a podcast. As a result, 100 small farmers will have an enhanced understanding of crop insurance programs.

2. How Do You Know Your Pricing is Right, and Your Investment is Protected?
Project Director: Robert Hadad (rgh26@cornell.edu)
Cornell University
Award Amount: $80,137

The Cornell Cooperative Extension Team’s How Do You Know Your Pricing is Right and Your Investment is Protected proposal will develop and promote resources to help farmers improve their financial management, cost of production, understanding of crop insurance options and farm labor management creating improved financial stability resulting in greater farm business success.

Targeted audiences include organic, sustainable, socially disadvantaged and beginning producers in New York State. The project has four objectives: 1) Creating and promoting applicable risk-management training, online tools and resources; 2) Increasing producers’ knowledge and understanding of risk-management resources and evaluating the effectiveness of tools and trainings ; 3) Providing socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers tools and knowledge necessary to ensure a successful farm business; and, 4) Increasing producers’ understanding of crop insurance programs available to mitigate production risks.

Objectives will be realized through five online or in-person workshops/trainings, multiple consultations and online resources. Producers will gain knowledge and tools enabling them to make sound risk management decisions about production, financial, and human risk. The expected impact is that 100 producers will learn about and implement tools, resources and strategies to mitigate risks on farms and ensure the long term viability of New York state farm land.

3. Managing Operational Risk for Cattle Production
Project Director: John Johnson (john.johnson@mail.wvu.edu)
Jackson County Commission with the WVU Extension Service
Award Amount: $34,490

This project will target regional beef producers in the Ohio Valley of West Virginia. In this region, around 75% of the agricultural income is based around beef cattle and hay production. We will be teaching producers better management practices to help lower liabilities in the beef industry, introduce them to available resources to help manage their risks, and provide tools to help them hedge available markets. Through a developed curriculum, classes and field days have been set up to teach producers and show them firsthand how to implement their gained knowledge into their operations. Through the series of classes and field days, producers will also be given tools to utilize on their farms to help implement knowledge and resources. Classes will include topics including soil health, forage production, animal health, animal production and low stress handling, farm finances, winter feeding, high quality hay production, insurance and loan availability, and farm legal assessment and succession.

4. Risk Management Education in Vermont 2021-2022
Project Director: Jake Jacobs (jake.jacobs@uvm.edu)
University of Vermont State and Agricultural College
Award Amount: $99,754

With approximately 90 percent of U.S. farm acres covered by crop insurance, Vermont producers are decidedly underserved by Federal crop insurance programs with only 5.8 percent of farm acres insured. Many Vermont farmers remain unfamiliar with the options available to them and unaware of how to access risk management programs. This project provides education on Federal risk management programs available to Vermont producers across the state, with a focus on new and early stage producers, diversified farms selling to direct and local markets, and dairy producers.  Main topics include agricultural risks, available risk management options, incorporating risk management into business plans and decision-making, expanded options in WFRP, and milk protection programs such as Dairy-RP.

This project incorporates commodity-specific and audience-specific risk management information into educational courses and events, small group meetings and individual consultations.  Risk management information integrated into curriculum will reach 30 participants in 3 courses; outreach will be included in 15 workshops and other educational events reaching 100 producers; 25 small group and individual consultations will reach 35 producers.  Education delivered will enable participants to integrate risk management strategies into their farm business plans, assess available Federal risk management programs and make informed decisions about crop insurance participation.

5. “Risky Business:” Peer-to-Peer Expert Mentorship for Chesapeake Farmers Underserved by Crop Insurance
Project Director: Caroline Selle
Future Harvest, Inc.
Award Amount: $97,570

Crop insurance programs are frequently neither available nor applicable to small, diversified producers, particularly to those who are socially disadvantaged. Similarly, few farm service providers have expertise in the risks faced by these producers. To address this gap, we heeded farmers’ requests for both group and one-on-one support and will build the Chesapeake Farmer Expert Network, which will connect expert farmer mentors to at least 60 farmers in the Chesapeake region for individualized and group support to help farmers manage risks inherent in their sector. We propose building this network in two ways: 1) group support via peer-to-peer learning through facilitated “study circles”; and 2) a mentor-farmer matchmaking program for one-on-one, deep-dive support. For the first, we will convene a total of 30 producers with similar business types and goals into 3-4 groups for monthly meetings, facilitated by Chesapeake region farming experts. Topics will include financial benchmarking, marketing, and crop production. For the second, we will run a program connecting farmers directly with risk management experts. With $30,000 to be awarded in sums of up to $1000 per farm, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers will be able to get one-on-one advice for their businesses in the areas they need most

6. Spray Safe, Spray Well: Reducing Pesticide Use Risks for Beginning Organic Growers and Spanish-Speaking Farmers
Project Director: Ethan Grundberg (eg572@cornell.edu)
Co-Project Director: Crystal Stewart (cls263@cornell.edu)
Cornell University
Award Amount: $97,795

This proposal aims to support growers in better managing the production, human, legal, and financial risks related to pesticide use. The project team will work with bilingual consultants to recruit beginning and organic vegetable farmers, socially disadvantaged Spanish-speaking specialty crop growers, and urban agriculturalists in Eastern New York, including New York City. Once recruited, program participants will take part in a series of online, simultaneously interpreted, interactive workshops covering topics ranging from improving spray safety and efficacy through water pH adjustment to understanding food safety regulations governing sanitizer use post-harvest. The core curriculum will be delivered in six workshops to an audience of 30 growers each, with an additional two optional introductory meetings targeted at urban growers (15 growers attending) and an optional session to support growers studying for the pesticide applicator license exam (5 growers attending). The project team will coordinate with participants to customize follow up farm visits to provide individual technical assistance, review pesticide application recordkeeping requirements, and calibrate spray equipment. The project team estimates that at least 35 underserved growers will report improving their pesticide efficacy and safety as a result of participation, thereby better managing the risks inherent to pest management on the farm.

7. Strength in Networks: Risk management education for underserved producers in NY’s Hudson Valley
Project Director: David Llewellyn (dllewellyn@glynwood.org)
Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming
Award Amount: $65,471

The Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming (Glynwood) is a leading training and convening institution for small-to-mid-scale regenerative, diversified agricultural producers in NY’s Hudson Valley, many of whom are new and beginning farmers, sustainable farmers and socially disadvantaged farmers: audiences that are currently underserved by traditional risk management efforts of USDA.  Through this project, Glynwood will support — through training and education — a total of 57 vegetable and livestock producers representing a diverse set of these underserved producer groups (apprentices, Mid-Hudson CRAFT participants, participants in Glynwood’s Farm Business Incubator, and regional livestock producers).  Participants will take part in risk management education activities that address key elements of agricultural risk including: production, marketing, financial and human risk. Through participation in both producer group roundtables and farm visits, as well as workshops and one-on-one technical assistance sessions, these producers will achieve a variety of risk management results, including: improved crop rotation and succession planting plans; improved cover cropping strategies; improved marketing plans; improved understanding of relevant farm insurance policies for diversified producers; and improved team communication skills for farm workers and managers.

8. Training Underserved Specialty Crop Producers to Mitigate Production Risk through Farmland Assessment and Soil Health Practices
Project Director: Jennifer Hashley (jennifer.hashley@tufts.edu)
Trustees of Tufts College
Award Amount: $99,960

Beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers face increasing crop production risks due to climate change. Educational programs will train producers on soil health, water conservation, and agroecology principles to mitigate production risks and support producers to address legal risks through assessing available farmland and securing long-term leases or farmland purchase.

Through 1-1 technical assistance, farmland advising, field demonstrations, web-based presentations, learning networks, and farm tours, we will conduct two half-day soil health workshops; two webinars on water conservation, soil health, and agroecology/regenerative agriculture principles; two farm tours showcasing conservation production practices; four presentations on farmland search and leasing tools; two farmland mixers; and update a farmland resource guide. Risk management curriculum will be incorporated into business planning and crop production courses.

Our target audience is Northeast Massachusetts beginning and socially disadvantaged specialty crop farmers underexposed to risk management and crop insurance options.

The results: participants will gain knowledge/understanding of soil quality indicators; create conservation and soil health plans; improve knowledge of farmland assessment and lease tools; improve record keeping; and implement risk mitigating crop production practices. 175 producers will attend workshops (40), webinars (40), classes/mixers (60), tours (20), and individual farmland advising sessions (15). 100-500 additional individuals will access online resources.

9. Women in Agriculture: Effective Communication Skills and Strategies to Reduce Stress on the Farm
Project Director: Michelle Kirk (mkirk@pafarmlink.org)
Co-Project Director: Darlene Livingston (daliving@pafarmlink.org)
PA Farm Link
Award Amount: $83,895

Communication and stress go hand in hand. Whether with a spouse or farm business partner, communication is the largest issue Pennsylvania farmers report during farm family meetings facilitated by PA Farm Link professionals. Stress caused by poor communication is a substantial factor affecting human risk management.

Farm women play an intricate role on farms and improved communication skills will garner increased respect in interactions with ag businesses, farm families and employees.

This multi-faceted project addresses effective communication skills that will assist farm women with conveying thoughts, concerns and needs to those in their family and farm business, particularly those whom it is difficult to speak with. Participants will be encouraged to openly share struggles they face during two webinars and in-person workshops. Professionals will share communication and stress reduction skills with 135 participants through webinars and workshops.

A series of articles will be developed and published via social media and print media outlets along with blog posts. Videos focusing on communication and stress will be produced and uploaded to the website for 24/7 access.

Farm women are vital to the success of farming; better communication skills will greatly reduce stress leading to a happier, healthier farm family and farm business!