2020 Funded RME for Producers Underserved by Crop Insurance Projects

1. Building a Resilient Risk Management Network for Producers Underserved by Crop Insurance
Project Director: Carole Bernard Future Harvest, Inc.
Award Amount: $37,930

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, the critical role of resilient local farms and networks is becoming clear: Consumer demand for local food is rising fast, with meat and early-season produce stocks already dwindling. This is presenting unprecedented challenges and opportunities for farmers, especially small, beginning, diversified, and socially disadvantaged producers who do not typically engage with crop insurance. This demographic suddenly has great thirst for risk management education, which we hope to satisfy with a nearly year-long suite of programming, including three webinars, five workshops, and two conference sessions to help farmers manage marketing, financial, and human risk during this crisis. Key to successful program delivery is improving our capacity to store and track risk management data gleaned from our program registrations, follow-up evaluations, and interviews, and using this data to better tailor our programming and outreach, evaluate our impact, create data-based products like farmer directories, and contribute to greater understanding of risk management strategies and adoption in the Chesapeake region. We thus propose augmenting program delivery with a new database storing and tracking data of least 800 farmers in Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware, and the District of Columbia.

2. Simplifying Risk Management Through Collaboration and Innovation
Project Director: Joseph Bonelli
Co-Project Director: Mary Concklin
University of Connecticut
Award Amount: $96,500

Our team will focus on production risk, financial risk, and human risk, as we’ve learned from prior evaluation efforts that these risk domains are of most importance to our target audiences, which are beginning, underserved and conventional farmers/growers. Integrated digital and in-person education and engagement techniques will be used to achieve the goals set forth in this proposal. Using a simplified logic model approach, we have identified pathways toward achieving these goals, and key evaluation intervention points for monitoring progress along the way. Using embedded assessment in the video clips and retrospective pre-approach surveys designed to specifically measure the project goals, we will assess the impact of the program on participants. Breaking down a complex or lengthy topic into short videos of approximately 5 minutes while targeting very specific aspects are planned. Targeted short videos will feed into longer in-depth videos.

3. Mastering Farm Risk Management (“MyFaRM”)
Project Director: Nicole Cook
Co-Project Director: Berran Rogers
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Award Amount: $98,084

This project delivers free, in-person and online classes for underserved farmers about developing risk management plans that address all 5 risk areas (financial, human, legal, marketing and production), and emphasizes using insurance to manage those risks. It provides three learning tracks: (1) 20-25 farmers from Maryland’s Worcester, Somerset and Wicomico counties who commit to attending a minimum of eight of the entire series of eleven in-person classes (“core group”); (2) 10-15 farmers from anywhere who choose a risk management section or sections and commit to attending all of the in-person classes within the respective chosen section(s) (“non-core group”); and (3) online independent learning modules that include videos of the classes, associated reading materials, and worksheets to develop a risk management plan. All farmers in the core group will “graduate” with a written 5-year risk management plan, half will implement the crop insurance part of their plans 5 months after starting classes, and 25% will implement one or more of any parts of their plans 3-4 months after they “graduate.” 25% of the non-core group will identify at least one affirmative risk-minimizing action they took after completing each chosen course section. Online classes will be available free to the public.

4. Developing Risk Management and Marketing Plans for Shellfish Growers, Women, and Beginning Farmers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts
Project Director: Laurence Crane
National Crop Insurance Services
Award Amount: $99,765

Applied education consisting of sequential workshops, supplemented by personal assignments and individualized counseling, will be delivered via a partnership of subject matter experts and local educators in Rhode Island and Massachusetts to shellfish growers, women and beginning farmers. Five day-long (6 hours, 30 hours total) workshops will be conducted approximately 30 days apart, with the same producers attending all five workshops. Homework assignments requiring a minimum of 20 hours (100 hours total) to complete will be assigned following each workshop. A minimum of 40 producers will participate acquiring the risk management and market analysis skills and understanding their own operations sufficiently to develop and implement detailed personal risk management plans and marketing strategies addressing the five areas of risk and the five key marketing mix variables at the enterprise level. Each participant will be interviewed at the project’s end, documenting the actions implemented and their economic impacts.

The duration and structure of this innovative, concentrated and iterative program, with sequential workshops, hands-on activities and individualized on-farm follow-up, ensures accountability and 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.

5. Promoting Risk Management Education for Baltimore Urban Farmers
Project Director: Michael Elonge
University of Maryland
Award Amount: $7,000

This Educator intends to promote risk management education to urban farmers (beginners and existing farmers) and to disseminate knowledge from Northeast Extension Risk Management Education Center to local urban Baltimore communities interested in or already engaging in urban farming.

The rationale for teaching risk management education is that urban farmers who are interested in cultivating vacant urban lands into urban farmlands should fully understand all available risk associated with farming before deciding on becoming urban farmers.

6. Managing Production, Financial, and Marketing Risks: Producer Education on Contract Development and Crop Insurance Decisions in Industrial Hemp Production
Project Director: Paul Goeringer
University of Maryland
Award Amount: $53,967

In the last three years, interest in industrial hemp production has exploded across the US. One of the consequences of the hype surrounding industrial hemp production is that people new to agriculture, representing diverse demographics, have been drawn to the industry. As a result, many industrial hemp growers have a limited background in agricultural production, contracting, and the use of crop insurance products. As such, this project seeks to address two major concerns that are influencing the development of the industrial hemp industry.

First, our legal team will develop producer/processor contract templates for three types of industrial hemp production (CBD/extract, fiber, and seed). The second component is to provide producer education on the three available crop insurance products for industrial hemp – Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP), the pilot program for Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI), and Non-insured Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). The intersection of these two project components is the requirement of a contract with a processor for a producer to participate in certain crop insurance programs. The overall objective of our project is to provide industrial hemp producers, crop insurance agents, and processors with contracting and crop insurance information and resources to assist with mitigating production, financial, and marketing risk.

7. Marketing and Legal Risk Management for Beginning Farmers Accessing Wholesale Markets
Project Director: Timothy Griffin
Co-Project Director: Jennifer Hashley
Trustees of Tufts College
Award Amount: $96,495

To better equip beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers who are engaging in or exploring intermediated and wholesale market channels we will focus on measuring and mitigating production risks associated with crop diversity and food safety; marketing

risks associated with different marketing channels; and legal risks involved with contracting and insurance.

Through 1-1 technical assistance, panel discussions, web-based learning and presentations, and on-farm tours we will conduct two in person half day workshops; two webinars on risk management specific to wholesale and institutional marketing; two farm tours; and a resource guide on risk assessment for wholesale and intermediated markets. Risk management curriculum will be developed/revised and incorporated into business planning and crop production courses.

Our target audience for this project is beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers under- exposed to risk management and crop insurance options, primarily in Northeast Massachusetts.

The results: participants will gain knowledge/understanding of resources available, enhance their ability to create risk management marketing plans; improve knowledge of proper legal/food safety requirements, and implement risk mitigating production practices.

An estimated 160 producers will be served through workshops (40), webinars (40), classes (60), and tours (20). An additional 100-500 individuals are expected to access online resources produced and/or recorded webinars.

8. Risk Management Education in Vermont 2020-2021
Project Director: Jake Jacobs
University of Vermont
Award Amount: $99,139

This project concentrates risk management and crop insurance education to new and beginning farmers, women in agriculture and dairy producers throughout Vermont. Content is integrated into two farm business education course curriculums: a six-session UVM Extension course and an eight-session NOFA-VT course. Course curriculums will include learning about the five areas of agricultural risk management and how to incorporate risk management into business plans, methods and tools to help moderate risks, and production

and financial recordkeeping. All are priority areas of concern for early stage operations. Additional education and support will be provided through team advisory groups, individualized consultations and on-farm workshops. Further outreach will be delivered via the UVM Extension Farm Business Program, matching specific risk management and crop insurance information with the commodities and needs of each enterprise applying for services. A series of short instructional videos will be produced, added to course follow-up, and available with other risk management resources to all producers on the UVM Agricultural Risk Management Education website.

Anticipate the project reaching 35 participants in the two courses, establish advisory teams for 10 farms, provide coaching, consulting and referrals to 25 producers, and deliver targeted information to an additional 30 farm business consulting applicants.

9. Risk Management Education for Massachusetts Producers Underserved by Federal Crop Insurance and USDA Disaster Programs
Project Director: Lisa McKeag
Co-Project Director: Thomas Smiarowski
University of Massachusetts
Award Amount: $99,991

The project addresses underserved specialty crop and dairy producers who have been consistently underserved by Federal Crop Insurance due in large part to the lack of policies available. The project identified 7 key agricultural organizations representing producers who fall in this underserved category and have a proven track record of working with UMass Extension on a variety of agricultural topics. The organizations will work cooperatively with UMass Extension to provide an initial overview of Federal Crop Insurance as well as other available USDA disaster assistance programs to assist their members.

We expect to reach over 2,000 producers with this initial overview. The next step will involve individual or small group meetings to explore options for specialty crop and dairy producers. These producers will then have the opportunity to receive a more detailed explanation of available programs in a confidential setting. We anticipate reaching 250 – 300 producers in these individual or small group settings. The goal at the end of these sessions is for all producers to have a thorough understanding of programs available to their farming operations and decide which USDA programs, if any, can assist them in managing weather- related risks on their farming operations.

10.  2020-2022 Crop Insurance and Risk Management Education for New Hampshire Farmers
Project Director: Kanesha Reynolds
University of New Hampshire
Award Amount: $88,785

UNH Cooperative Extension, will partner with Farm Commons, Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success (ORIS) and producer organizations to reach 750 NH producers through educational outreach which will address strategies and techniques for managing production, marketing, financial and human resource and legal risks. Programs will include education on Federal crop insurance products, 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. Educational outreach will include 6 workshops and conferences, 9 webinars and Zoom conferencing, 5 podcasts, 5 video recordings, 5 seminars, and a Legal Guide for New Hampshire Agricultural Producers. Programs will target producer groups including new and beginning, women, immigrant, and retiring/transitioning producers, operating diverse enterprises and supplying multiple marketing channels. We anticipate producers increasing their knowledge and skills in the short-run, but also strategically analyzing and incorporating changes over time to improve their overall farm viability. Additionally, through promotional efforts, a much larger audience of producers will learn about the features, kinds of risks covered, and closing dates of crop insurance policies. Promotional efforts planned include, websites, newsletters, news releases, digital marketing, and personal emails.

11. New York Dairy and Livestock Risk Management Education Project
Project Director: Christopher Wolf
Co-Project Director: Jennifer Ifft
Cornell University
Award Amount: $100,000

New York dairy and livestock producers are underserved by Federal crop insurance. This project will deliver critical crop insurance and risk management education to these producers through regionally based Dairy, Livestock and Field Crop Extension team farm management educators. These educators have existing relationships with dairy and livestock producers across NY and are experienced in delivering educational programs across diverse platforms to meet the needs of their stakeholders. Practical, actionable crop insurance and risk management education will be delivered through (1) multi-day workshops, (2) presentations at extension events, (3) articles in extension newsletters and the farm media, (4) podcasts, and (5) social media posts with infographics or short videos. We expect improved understanding of crop insurance and risk management concepts from our articles and social media use. Farms that participate in training activities will improve understanding of risk management, analyze their practices, and, when appropriate, work with a crop insurance agent. We will assess project results through in-person and follow-up evaluations, contacts reached, website or social media views/interaction, and targeted feedback from stakeholders. Our education program will contribute to increasing use of crop insurance by NY dairy and livestock farms over the project period.