We take our responsibility to America’s farmers and ranchers very seriously at the Risk Management Agency (RMA), and we value our time spent with them and other stakeholders getting feedback on our programs and policies that are so vital to America’s food supply.
I welcome these face-to-face opportunities, and last week was fortunate to spend a few days in Washington state that culminated in a public forum to discuss the enhancements we’ve been making to the Federal crop insurance system.
Our first event of the trip was a May 23 meeting with members of the Northwest Approved Insurance Provider (AIP) Committee. The Whole-Farm Revenue Protection program (formerly known as Adjusted Gross Revenue) has been accepted as a “go-to” risk management tool for Pacific Northwest farmers and ranchers. Whole-Farm is tailored for any farm with up to $8.5 million of insured revenue, including farms with specialty or organic commodities (both crops and livestock), or those marketing to local, regional, farm-identity preserved, specialty or direct markets.
More than 75 percent of the program’s participation nationwide has been in Washington state. Washington is second in the nation in policies for organic and transitioning to organic crops, with $133.1 million in coverage in the state for 2015.
One insurance executive at our AIPs meeting said Whole-Farm has been a big improvement in the farm safety net. More producers are recognizing its benefit as a means to help soften tough times.
More than 35 farmers and ranchers, commodity and minority farmer group leaders and crop insurance professionals turned out for our final event in the region, a public forum May 25 at the Walter Clore Center in Prosser, Wash.
The RMA team got a lot of positive feedback there on Whole-Farm as well as the enhancements we’ve been making for organic and beginning farmers and ranchers. We value their suggestions for further improvements.
In the days between those events, we toured an operation near Yakima that raises apples and cherries, and did a handful of media interviews to get the word out to farmers and ranchers on all the RMA risk management tools at their disposal. On KDNA, a radio station serving the mid-Columbia Valley, my interview was conducted in Spanish.
I’d like to thank Director Ben Thiel and Risk Management Specialist Jo Lynne Seufer of our Regional Office in Spokane, who worked so hard on making the events the successes that they were.
But most of all, I’d like to thank the insurance professionals, farmers and ranchers, and other stakeholders that participated. You’re why we do the work we do. Please continue to let us know how you think we’re performing and ways we can do our jobs better.