Representing the interests of 200,000 family farmers and ranchers across the country, National Farmers Union applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) efforts to expand crop insurance coverage for organic producers. In an announcement Thursday, Secretary Vilsack stated that organic price elections would expand to 57 crops for the 2016 and 2017 growing years, up from just four crops in 2011, and contract price options will be available for 73 crops.
“Whether organic or conventional, if you have crops in the ground, you face the risk of losing a harvestable crop to an unexpected weather event or natural disaster,” said National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson. “Producers transitioning to organic agriculture face an added level of risk in that their transitioning crop values had not been properly reflected in their crop insurance policies. I am pleased to see USDA expand its insurance coverage for transitioning producers.”
Sales of organic foods continue to break records. In 2014, the organic sector increased sales by 11.3 percent to more than $39 billion. Some producers have taken note of the price premiums and begun transitioning to organic methods of production. Organic agriculture is another opportunity for farmers and ranchers to add value to their operations, but they must have useful tools to mitigate risk.
“Choice and diversity of agricultural practices have always been essential to the success and prosperity of agriculture in the United States. It is important for the farm safety net to work for all producers regardless of the crops they grow,” Johnson added.