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 includes education, training, and 1:1 business technical assistance (1:1 BTA) that supports participants in applying for RMA’s new Micro Whole Farm Revenue Protection crop insurance (mWFRP). The project includes: 1) Education about mWFRP; 2) Assessment of the applicability of benefits of mWFRP to ones’ operation; 3) The mWFRP application requirements; 4) Refinement of Records, and 5) Applying for the mWFRP.

The project’s components include interactive in-person and online sessions, videos, self-assessments, and 1:1 business technical assistance (1:1 BTA). The different parts of the program are designed to meet producers where they are in their understanding and interest in mWFRP. The components are sequential, increasing in length and depth of information. A participant can participate in all 5 sections; however, if a participant is comfortable moving forward with their application at any point, they will have the support to do so.

The target audience is underserved populations in MA, RI, and CT including specialty crop and diversified operations, small farms, socially disadvantaged producers, women, and beginning producers. Jeff and team will hold 4 informational sessions, three recorded sessions, and 12 trainings. Thirty-eight participants will receive 1:1 BTA, and we expect that 45 of 275 participants will apply for mWFRP.

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 helps Northeast fruit and vegetable farmers adopt practices that support pollinators in specialty crops, reducing risk of lower yield and quality in apples, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, cucumbers, grapes, peaches, pears, plums, peppers, pumpkins, squash, strawberries, and tomatoes. Of 102 farmers that responded to an October 2021 survey, 64% said lack of sufficient pollination posed a risk to their crop yield or quality, 20% weren’t sure, 94% were interested in learning practices to enhance pollinator habitat on their farms, and 59% were interested in information about financial assistance for pollinator support practices. A comprehensive educational program will address these issues with guidance on pollinator habitat plantings, cover crop management, tilling, mulching, and mowing to maintain pollinator habitat, avoiding pesticide harm to pollinators, and applying for financial assistance to adopt practices. Over 1,000 farmers will be engaged through on-line information, three conference presentations, four on-farm workshops, and three webinars; 150 farmers will receive individual consultations; 125 farmers will use a new on-line tool to develop pollinator support plans, and 100 farmers will document the implementation of at least one new pollinator support practice on a total of 2,000 acres of crops with annual sales of $14 million.

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. Educational programs will train producers on record-keeping and financial management strategies to improve access to grant, cost-share, and loan programs. Technical assistance will support producers to mitigate financial risks and alleviate production risks through asset acquisition and farm safety net programs.

Educational activities will include six two-hour workshops and farmer networking events; two resource round tables and drop-in registration sessions; 10 farmer case studies to support development of a Risk Management and Capitalization Decision Tool; and individual technical assistance, business advising, and grant application support services. Risk management curriculum will be incorporated into existing business planning and crop production courses. The target audience is Northeast Massachusetts beginning and socially disadvantaged specialty crop farmers underexposed to risk management and crop insurance options.

It is anticipated that the participants will gain knowledge/understanding of state/federal grant and loan programs; improve financial management and record-keeping skills; make strategic risk management and capital investment decisions; and submit applications to grant and loan programs. It is projected that 190 producers will attend workshops (120), drop-in registration sessions (50), and regular individual advising sessions (20). The project team is also anticipating 100‑500 additional individuals will access online resources.

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

University of New Hampshire (UNH) Cooperative Extension, will partner with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) to reach at least 990 New Hampshire producers through educational outreach, which will address risk management strategies for production, marketing, finance and labor. Programs will include 2 field days, demonstrating sprayer calibration and farm equipment usage for women farmers; 2 webinars on women farmer wellness; a Managing for Today & Tomorrow Annie’s Project weekend retreat; 2 beginner farmer demonstrations and networking field days; 4 webinars on growing and marketing specialty crops; and an on-farm greenhouse construction demonstration, from which a video will be produced and shared on UNH Extension website. Programs will also include education on Federal crop insurance products, including the use of crop insurance to manage risks, making decisions on appropriate crop insurance before sales closings and the effect crop insurance may have on other risk management decisions. Programs will target small farms and ranchers, beginning producers, and women producers, operating diverse enterprises. Kelly anticipates that producers will increase their knowledge and skills in the short-run, and strategically analyze and implement changes over time to improve their overall farm viability. Promotional efforts are carefully planned to reach the intended audience, including, websites, newsletters, news releases, social media, and emails.

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 will help producers in our network understand if they qualify for insurance programs and, in the meantime, mitigate all five areas of risk. Thirty new producers will participate in 20 or more hours of one-on-one consulting for a total of 600 hours of free expert services. And more than 500 Future Harvest members will receive a one-pager on crop insurance options available to them.

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

This new program iteration allows the project team to expand the list of BIPOC consultants, increase farmer awareness of this resource, improve and streamline program implementation, and educate more farmers on crop insurance options.

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

Farming is a risky business, and meeting the risk management educational needs of New York State’s agricultural community requires customized, regionalized, and connective programs to meet the unique needs of those traditionally underserved by crop insurance. The project, while multi-faceted, is advantageously positioned to deliver low-cost, high-quality, research-based programming to underserved NYS farmers through our outstanding Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) system in a variety of ways. The project focuses on the risk management topics of crop insurance, record keeping, and farm diversification. CCE will connect 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. In addition, this project will increase awareness of crop insurance options, improve record keeping, help businesses plan for diversification, and improve overall farm risk management. These overarching themes and results tie together the immense, state-wide project – unifying 8 different regional CCE programs. The project team will use experience, proven best management practices, a keen eye on program development for successful transfer of learning, and responsive programming to reach the goals. Katelyn and team estimates reaching a minimum of 8,000 farmers through the variety of projects.