2024 Producers Underserved by Crop Insurance Projects

Reaching Underserved Producers in VT and NH with Risk Management Programs
Project Director: Jennifer Byrne (whiterivernrcd@gmail.com)
White River Natural Resources Conservation District
Award Amount: $100,000

This project will provide continued education and technical assistance (TA) for small holder, specialty crop operations and small-scale dairy and livestock farms to increase enrollment in Whole-Farm and Micro-Farm Revenue Protection as well as Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage Programs. The geographic focus area will be the Connecticut River Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire. VT and NH are two of the former “Targeted States”, identified for having low levels of adoption of crop insurance. There are currently zero (0) farms in Vermont that are accessing these type of insurance policies. We hope that number will change next year due to our current efforts under our existing NERME grant. Our Conservation District is a trusted and effective resource throughout the community, holding long term relationships with the farming community, we are especially focused on serving beginning, socially disadvantaged, livestock, and specialty crop producers. In 2024, we will convene at least 10 additional Farm Teams annually across the region, host at least 5 educational workshops reaching up to 100 producers, develop 4 educational products, and will emphasize and explore a “conservation lens” within risk calculation. The anticipated outcomes will be greater adoption and utilization of these insurance programs among underserved producers.

Reducing Financial Risk: Supporting Economic Viability for Producers Underserved by Crop Insurance through Financial Record Keeping, Analysis, and Strategic Risk Management
Project Director: Jeffrey Cole (jcole@thecarrotproject.org)
Co-Project Director: Julia Grigg (jgrigg@thecarrotproject.org)
TSNE, Inc. – The Carrot Project
Award Amount: $100,000

This project addresses financial risks through education, training, and one-on-one business technical assistance (1:1 BTA) that helps participants evaluate and access federal crop insurance, disaster assistance, and other programs, as part of a comprehensive financial risk management strategy.

The programming will help participants: 1) build financial recordkeeping and management skills; 2) identify financial risks; 3) understand and evaluate the resources and tools available to mitigate risk, including crop insurance; 4) apply these tools to address financial risk; and 5) take measurable steps toward enduring economic viability.

The project will accommodate the needs and preferences of diverse producers by combining cohort-based and in-person education with asynchronous, self-driven learning. Components include an online resource library guiding producers through four tiers of financial and risk management skills, two training events, and two workshops. Participants will also receive one- on-one support to apply new skills and develop and implement strategies for reducing risk and increasing business resilience.

The target audience is underserved producers in CT, MA, ME, NH, and RI (more below). We anticipate 75 participants will engage in self-driven education, 40 will receive hands-on training, 50 will attend workshops, and 70 will receive individualized support through coaching or BTA (see Proposed Outcomes for more).

Cover Crop Sequences to Support Pollinators and Soil Health on Diversified Vegetable Farms

Project Director: Vernon Grubinger (vernon.grubinger@uvm.edu)
Co-Project Director: Laura Johnson (laura.o.johnson@uvm.edu)
University of Vermont
Award Amount: $97,863

This project helps diversified vegetable farmers adopt cover crop sequences that support insect pollinators and soil health within complex crop rotations. Farmers know that cover crops can help maintain soil organic matter, reduce erosion, and provide floral resources for pollinators, but they typically lack a systematic approach to optimizing these benefits. Most Northeast vegetable farms are small operations growing a variety of high-value cash crops, often in multiple fields. Planting a series of cool and warm-season cover crop species known to support pollinators will reduce production risks posed by inadequate pollinator habitat while mitigating soil degradation, helping to maintain vegetable yields in a changing climate.

One thousand farmers will be engaged through three conference presentations, four on-farm workshops, three webinars and 100 individual consultations; 75 farmers will use an on-line tool developed in a previous NERME project to plan and document adoption of pollinator support practices, including cover crop sequences. Cover crop seed and soil tests provided at reduced cost will facilitate adoption of sequential cover crop plantings by 50 farmers with a total of 800 acres of vegetable production and aggregate annual gross sales of $14 million. Fifty farms will also learn about and obtain NAP financial assistance.

Climate-Resilient Agriculture: Ensuring Farm Sustainability with Covered Production and Diversified Risk Management Strategies
Project Director: Jennifer Hashley (jennifer.hashley@tufts.edu)
Tufts University
Award Amount: $100,000

Agriculture producers face challenges from rising temperatures, seasonal shifts, and altered precipitation patterns, impacting farm viability. This project aims to lead Northeast small-scale, beginning, specialty crop, organic, and socially disadvantaged producers to mitigate production risks using covered production including high and low tunnels, caterpillar tunnels, and other covered production methods. Expected outcomes include producer understanding of how covered structures mitigate weather unpredictability, resources and steps to initiate installations, diversification through season extension and new market channels, and reduction in crop and revenue losses. Producers will learn about federal farm safety net programs and improve profitability.

The program will offer: 1) eight online training sessions covering conservation funding and resources for high tunnel installation, under cover production techniques, enterprise planning, and marketing (30 producers/session); trainings will be adapted to an online self-paced course; 2) three farm tours hosted by local farmers showcasing covered production methods (10 producers/farm tour); and 3) individual technical assistance from experts aiding producers in expanding covered production practices (virtual/in-person for 15 producers). Over 200 unique producers will gain insight on the importance of covered production for risk reduction, take steps to adopt covered production agriculture, expand markets, and produce and track results mitigating production and financial risk.