2022 Producers Underserved by Crop Insurance Projects

  1. Reducing Production Risk: Education, Recordkeeping, and Applying for Micro Whole Farm Revenue Protection

Project Director: Jeffrey Cole (jcole@thecarrotproject.org)
The Carrot Project/TSNE
Award Amount: $84,590

This project included education, training, and one-one-one business technical assistance (1:1 BTA) supporting participants in considering and applying for RMA’s Micro Farm insurance program, including managing their record keeping in order to apply and submit a claim, information on tax implications, and education on alternative RMA and USDA risk management products.

The target audience was underserved farmers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

Project components included interactive in-person and online educational and training sessions, videos, self-guided online tools, and 1:1 BTA to support risk management planning and Micro Farm enrollment. Components were designed to sequentially increase in length and depth of information. Farmers had the opportunity to participate in all components while also receiving the opportunity and support to move forward with their Micro Farm application/enrollment at any point they desired.

In the last quarter of this project, we began to create longer-term materials and improved our ability to effectively deliver that support “on demand”. In September of 2023, the USDA announced more changes to the WFRP and Micro Farm programs. We pivoted to understanding the changes, assessing their impacts, and planning how to best incorporate new information into our ongoing resources and support for farmers to apply in the future. 

2. Reducing Risk of Crop Losses Due to Poor Pollination on Fruit and Vegetable Farms in the Northeast

Project Director: Vernon Grubinger (vernon.grubinger@uvm.edu)
Co-Project Director: Laura Johnson (laura.o.johnson@uvm.edu)
University of Vermont Extension
Award Amount: $93,906

This project helped vegetable and fruit farmers adopt practices that support insect pollinators, reducing risk of lower yield and quality in high-value crops. Of 102 vegetable and fruit farmers that responded to a 2021 survey, 94% were interested in learning practices to enhance pollinator habitat, and 59% were interested in financial assistance for such practices. In response, a comprehensive educational program was conducted to promote practices that support pollinators including habitat plantings, improved management of cover crops, tillage, mulching, and mowing, and avoiding pesticide harm to pollinators. Information was provided on obtaining NRCS assistance to adopt practices. Over 1,000 farmers were engaged through a web site, three conference presentations, 10 on-farm workshops, 5 webinars, and 155 farmers received individual consultations. Forty-six farmers documented adoption of new practices, and 12 farms participated in trials of cover crop mixes intended to provide season-long floral resources for pollinators. An on-line tool was developed for creating Pollinator Support Plans. Nineteen farms with estimated annual crop sales totaling $3.2 million used the on-line tool to draft pollinator support plans, and 58 farms obtained NRCS support for establishment of pollinator habitat on a total of 34 acres. 

3. Connecting Massachusetts’ Underserved and Beginning Producers to Safety Net and Farm Support Programs

Project Director: Jennifer Hashley (jennifer.hashley@tufts.edu)
Tufts University
Amount: $100,000

Beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers struggle to access land and capital to build infrastructure and assets critical to operating economically viable farms. The project “Connecting Massachusetts’ Underserved and Beginning Producers to Safety Net and Farm Support Programs” trained producers on strategies to improve access to grant, cost-share, and loan programs. Technical assistance supported producers to mitigate financial risks and alleviate production risks through asset acquisition and farm safety net programs.

Educational activities included seven workshops, farmer networking events, the development of a Risk Management and Capitalization Decision Tool, individual technical assistance, business advising, and grant application support services provided to farmers participating in the New Entry’s farm training program. Risk management curriculum was incorporated into existing business planning and crop production courses. Our target audience was Northeast Massachusetts beginning and socially disadvantaged specialty crop farmers underexposed to risk management and crop insurance options.

The results: 1,087 participants gained knowledge/understanding of state/federal grant and loan programs and made strategic risk management and capital investment decisions. 13 producers reported having submitted/planned to submit applications to grant and loan programs. 139 unique producers registered and attended workshops, 58 attended in person drop-in registration sessions, and 98 participated in individual advising sessions.  792 additional individuals accessed online resources through workshop recordings and published fact sheets.

4. Risk Management Education for Beginning & Women Farmers in New Hampshire

Project Director: Kelly McAdam (kelly.mcadam@unh.edu)
Co-Project Director: Kenesha Reynolds (kenesha.reynolds@unh.edu
University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension
Amount: $98,169

UNH Cooperative Extension, partnered with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) to reach at least 468 NH producers through educational outreach, which addressed risk management strategies for production, marketing, finance and labor. Programs included two field days, demonstrating sprayer calibration and farm equipment usage for women farmers; two webinars on women farmer wellness; a Succession and Retirement Planning Annie’s Project-Inspired hybrid program; two beginner farmer demonstrations and networking field days; five webinars on growing and marketing specialty crops; and the production of an on-farm greenhouse construction demonstration video. Programs also included education on Federal crop insurance products, including the use of crop insurance to manage risk and in making decisions on appropriate crop insurance, and the effect crop insurance may have on other risk management decisions. Programs targeted small farms, beginning producers, and women producers operating diverse enterprises. Producers increased their knowledge and skills in the short-run, with the intent of strategically implementing changes over time to improve overall farm viability.

5. Expanding Equity and Access with Individualized Coaching for Beginning, Socially Disadvantaged, and Specialty Crop Producers Underserved by Crop Insurance

Project Director: Grace Leatherman (grace@futureharvest.org)
Co-Project Director: Samaria King (samaria@futureharvest.org)
Future Harvest, Inc.
Amount: $83,292

Few beginning, socially disadvantaged, and specialty crop producers in the mid-Atlantic region are served by crop insurance. By expanding the highly reviewed Pick-Your-Own Consultant Program with new categories of producers and consultants, and by fine-tuning program implementation, Future Harvest helped producers in our network understand if they qualified for insurance programs and mitigate all five areas of risk. Over thirty producers participated in 30+ hours of one-on-one consulting. Future Harvest members also received a one-pager on crop insurance, which we will continue to circulate after the program’s end.

Participating producers – with a focus on socially disadvantaged, beginning, and specialty crop producers – worked with agricultural business experts, marketing professionals, lawyers, insurance agents, and other experts of their choosing for one-on-one consulting sessions. Participating producers received coaching on at least one of their business’s main vulnerabilities and gain an improved analysis of and plan to address said risks.

The new program iteration allowed us to expand our list of consultants, increase farmer awareness of this resource, and improve and streamline program implementation. Meanwhile farmers who have less access to / knowledge of / ability to afford and obtain crop insurance received tailored risk mitigation advice.

6. Fostering Regionalized Crop Insurance and Risk Management Education for New York Farmers through Cornell Cooperative Extension

Project Director: Katelyn Walley-Stoll (kaw249@cornell.edu)
Co-Project Director: Nicole Tommell (nt375@cornell.edu)
Cornell University
Amount: $98,091

The project focused on the risk management topics of crop insurance, record keeping, and farm diversification. CCE connected with a diverse target audience, which includes dairy and livestock producers who have traditionally low rates of crop insurance utilization; underserved commercial grape producers; beginning farmers; members of the Latinx community; and farmers diversifying their business. This project
increased awareness of crop insurance options, improved record keeping, helped businesses plan for diversification, and improved overall farm risk management. These overarching themes and results tied together our immense, state-wide project – unifying 8 different regional CCE programs. We used experience, proven best management practices, a keen eye on program development for successful transfer of learning, and responsive programming to reach these goals. Our reach totaled over 5,000 producers in NYS (determined through analytics and known circulation).