Funded Producers Underserved by Crop Insurance Projects for 2023

  1. Showcasing Perennial Crops Suitable for Organic Production in Pennsylvania
    Project Director: Leigh Archer (
    Rodale Institute
    Award Amount: $99,836

Incorporating perennial crops into an agricultural system is a climate smart approach for specialty producers to engage in enterprise diversification. This project will demonstrate how the addition of perennial crops can mitigate production risks related to soil degradation and increase economic resilience by expanding market opportunities. Participants who will benefit from this project include beginning, organic, and specialty crop producers, urban gardeners, and community members.

The Rodale Institute will establish a demonstration orchard with 15 different perennial species horticulturally suitable for organic production in Pennsylvania, as well as educational programming on management practices and ecological benefits of trees in an agricultural landscape. This public-facing agroecosystem will be an interactive display for tours, field days, workshops, and visitors, totaling upwards of 15,000 individuals annually. Additionally, this project will incorporate curriculum on perennial cropping systems into Rodale Institute’s Farmer Training, Veteran Farmer Training, and other seasonal internship programs, serving more than 30 participants yearly. Educational programming will focus on 1.) the role of perennial species in production risk mitigation and climate smart agriculture; 2.) perennial system establishment and management practices; and 3.) evaluating production risks and federal risk management programs available for specialty crop growers in Pennsylvania.

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

This project will provide education and technical assistance (TA) for small holder, diversified vegetable or “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 primarily Vermont and also New Hampshire. The White River Natural Resources Conservation District is a trusted and effective resource throughout the community, holding long term relationships with the farming community. They are especially focused on serving beginning, socially disadvantaged, livestock, and specialty crop producers. Their Conservation District will coordinate with the CT River Watershed Farmers Alliance (CRWFA) to convene 25 Farm Management Teams annually across the region, host at least 5 educational workshops reaching up to 100 producers, develop educational products, and emphasize and explore a “conservation lens” within risk calculation. The project team anticipates outcomes to include greater adoption and utilization of WFRP insurance programs among beginning, socially disadvantaged, livestock, and specialty crop producers, greater coordination of resources and collaboration among agriculture service providers, and improved efficiency in the implementation of on the ground practices that reduce production related risk due to natural disasters and climate change.

  1. Developing Risk Management and Marketing Plans for Shellfish Growers and Specialty Crop Producers in the Northeast and the Midatlantic States
    Project Director: John Clendaniel (
    Co-Project Director: Laurence Crane (
    Delaware State University
    Award Amount: $98,948

This project will deliver applied education consisting of sequential virtual workshops, supplemented by homework assignments and individualized counseling, to two groups: 1) shellfish growers, and 2) specialty crop producers, in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States. Eight 2 ½ hours long (20 hours total) virtual workshops will be conducted for each group, approximately three weeks apart, with the same producers attending all eight workshops for their group. The team will require homework assignments consisting of a minimum of 10 hours (80 hours total) to be assigned and completed following each workshop. A minimum of 50 producers from each group (100 total) is expected to participate and acquire the risk management and market analysis skills, and sufficient understanding of their own operations, to develop and implement detailed personal risk management plans and marketing strategies addressing five areas of risk and five key marketing mix variables. Each participant will be surveyed at project’s end, documenting actions implemented and their economic impacts.

The duration and structure of this concentrated and iterative program, with sequential workshops, hands-on activities, and individualized accountability provides participants an opportunity to succeed. This educational approach typically leads to long-term behavioral change, consistent with experience that behavior changes are more likely with sustained personal support and accountability.

  1. Increasing Awareness and Knowledge of Pasture, Rangeland and Forage Insurance as a Risk Management Tool for Livestock and Forage Producers in the Northeast
    Project Director: Kelly Davidson (
    Co-Project Director: Brittney Goodrich (
    University of Delaware
    Award Amount: $ 74,912

This project will support efforts to disseminate information about the Pasture, Rangeland and Forage (PRF) insurance program and evaluate the use of tools from behavioral economics to facilitate producer decisions. Kelly Davidson and her team will expand upon an exploratory grant “Nudge to Insure: Exploring Behavioral Economics in Risk Management Education” awarded by the Northeast Extension Risk Management Education center and Southern Extension Risk Management Education center in 2019 which examined the use of behavioral nudges to overcome knowledge and information barriers in the context of crop or livestock insurance. The exploratory findings revealed that behavioral nudges had potential to increase enrollment in PRF when the decision was framed as a risk-reducing mechanism to avoid forage losses from low rainfall. Of greater importance for this project, the exploratory findings revealed a lack of awareness about PRF among producers in the Northeast region. This project seeks to overcome barriers to knowledge and awareness by disseminating educational information about PRF to a wide audience in the Northeast region. Additionally, the project will explore the use of default recommendations in the insurance enrollment decision.

  1. Overcoming Risk During Climate Variability: The Importance of Recordkeeping in Small Scale Farming
    Project Director: Jennifer Hashley (
    Tufts University
    Award Amount: $100,000

The Northeast region’s warming, shifting of the seasons, and changes in precipitation all threaten the farming landscape, generate new risks, and affect farm viability. This project will guide Northeast small-scale, beginning, specialty crop, and socially disadvantaged producers to assess and analyze production, marketing, and financial risks through improved recordkeeping and data management practices. Producer outcomes will include: improved production data collection practices and management decisions; market channel assessments; improved farm financial recordkeeping and enterprise analysis; and increased understanding of overall business health in the face of climate risks. Producers will also better understand the benefit of and readiness and eligibility for federal farm safety net programs.

To achieve these outcomes, the project will offer: 1) six training sessions (webinars/in-person) focused on production, marketing, and financial risk (25 producers/session) and access to self- paced online training modules; 2) six farmer-to-farmer learning circles on best climate-smart and business health assessment strategies (10 producers); and 3) individual coaching sessions with experts to assess and provide assistance with farm metrics and development of data management systems (virtual/in-person for 15 producers). Over 150 unique producers will gain practical skills in recordkeeping and make better production, marketing, financial management decisions while navigating climate variability in the Northeast.

  1. Water Reuse in Food Production Among Historically Underserved Urban Farmers
    Project Director: Maik Kecinski, PhD (
    Co-Project Directors: Rachel Rosenberg Goldstein, PhD, MPH and Kent D. Messer, PhD
    University of Delaware
    Award Amount: $88,298

Climate change is stressing freshwater sources and increasing food production and safety risks. Water reuse, the beneficial use of highly treated municipal wastewater, is one solution to mitigate these risks. Maik and his project team will develop educational/extension materials targeted towards historically underserved, socially disadvantaged urban farmers in the Northeast and measure the impacts of these materials on these farmers’ understanding of water reuse and willingness to develop water reuse implementation plans. To achieve these outcomes, the team aims to: (1) prepare an educational report that contains urban farmer-relevant water reuse information; (2) host an online water reuse workshop for urban farmers and service providers; and (3) measure participants’ understanding and willingness to develop plans to adopt water reuse into their food production through a pre- and post-workshop survey as well as a focus group. They will also work with local regulators, engage them in the workshop, and connect them with socially disadvantaged urban farmers. To achieve these goals, they will widely distribute and promote the educational material and workshop across websites and extension offices, planning to reach 100 urban farmers with the online workshop directly and a multiple of that through the educational materials.