Risk Management Partnership Agreements


Advancing education and community outreach on risk management strategies for underserved farmers

From unpredictable weather to volatile market prices, farming is an inherently risky proposition, and it is important that farmers know about the tools available to them to reduce and mitigate that risk. This program seeks to help farmers, especially those in states where crop insurance has been underutilized, as well as beginning and minority farmers to better understand and access the tools available to them.

USDA’s Risk Management Agency provides funding to establish partnerships with key non-profit, public, and private organizations in order to help underserved and underinsured farmers understand the risks they face and how to manage those risks using a variety of tools of on their farms — including but not limited to crop insurance. Two programs – the Risk Management Education Partnership program and the Risk Management Education in Targeted States program – allow RMA to enter into agreements with a wide variety of governmental and non-governmental organizations to educate uninsured and underinsured farmers about risk management tools.

Learn More About Risk Management Partnership Agreements!

Program Basics

The Risk Management Education Partnerships Program is a competitive cooperative partnership agreement program that funds crop insurance education and risk management training. The program is managed through USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) and aims to help agricultural producers identify and manage production, marketing, legal, financial, and human risk.

Risk Management Education Partnerships Program — The Education Partnership Program prioritizes educating (1) producers of crops currently uninsured under federal crop insurance, such as many specialty crops, and (2) underserved commodities, including livestock and forage. It also prioritizes collaborative outreach and assistance programs for limited resource, socially disadvantaged, new and beginning, and other traditionally underserved farmers and ranchers. The program’s educational goals encompass production, legal, financial, and human risk involved in farming.

Risk Management Education in Targeted States Program — The Targeted States Program is aimed at educating producers in sixteen historically underserved states about crop insurance in order to increase participation in those states. These targeted states include CT, DE, HI, ME, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, UT, VT, WV, and WY. Project applications can address:

  • The kinds of production risks addressed by crop insurance and use of crop insurance to manage risks;
  • The features of existing and emerging crop insurance products;
  • Where applicable, the proper use and application of cover crops;
  • How crop insurance can affect other risk management decisions, such as the use of marketing and financial tools; and
  • How to make informed decisions on crop insurance prior to the sales closing date.

Eligibility

The agreements offered through both of these programs are available to a wide variety of governmental and non-governmental organizations. Eligible applicants include non-profit organizations, State Departments of Agriculture, State Cooperative Extension Services, Federal, State or tribal agencies, groups representing producers, community-based organizations, colleges and universities, and similarly appropriate partners.

The Program in Action

 These programs have helped farmers across the country, many in states where crop insurance has been underutilized, understand how to mitigate risk and understand what crop insurance options are available to them. In 2013, the Risk Management Education Partnership program funded 60 agreements; it funded 94 agreements in 2012. In total, the two programs provided risk management education in 45 states in 2013 and 48 states in 2012.

Recently funded agreements include:

  • The National Hmong National Development Inc. utilized a Risk Management Education Partnership Agreement to employ a local farm coordinator to help Asian poultry farmers with limited English proficiency better interact with their integrators and lenders thus improving their ability to manage financial risk and stay in business.
  • The National Center for Appropriate Technology used a Risk Management Education Partnership Agreement to train underserved communities of diversified farmers about the opportunities and risks related to entering the pastured poultry market. The project used nine webinars, farm tours, and workshops across Montana to provide thousands of farmers with detailed information concerning the financial risks of pastured poultry production.
  • The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group used a Risk Management Education Partnership Agreement to train 115 farmers in North Carolina and Arkansas on how to price specialty crops, track expenses, and determine profitability utilizing the Veggie Compass Whole Farm Profit Management system. The training was provided through a one and a half day seminar, take-home materials, and one-on-one training.

The Risk Management Education in Targeted States Program funded 17 risk management and crop insurance education projects in the 16-targeted states in 2013 and 2014. Since these states are targeted because of their past underutilization of crop insurance the funded projects are all relatively similar and focus on education farmers about crop insurance.

  • In New York, the program has funded an effort to deliver at least 90 crop insurance workshops to help producers understand and evaluate their crop insurance needs and what crop insurance products are available to them. The end goal is to get as many producers as possible to contact a crop insurance agent.

How to Apply and Program Resources

The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation provides the funding for these two programs each year. The Targeted State program receives $5 million annually, but the specific amount available for Education Partnerships varies from year to year. In Fiscal Year 2014, the Education Partnership program had $2 million available. The minimum award for a partnership agreement is $20,000 and the maximum award is $99,999. There is a preference but not a requirement for cost sharing or matching funds.

An annual Request For Applications (RFA) is usually released by RMA in the spring and details specific priorities for the coming year, along with specific instructions for how to apply for funding. Find the most recent RFA for the Risk Management Education Partnership program on RMA’s website.

More on both programs can by found on RMA’s partnership agreements page.

Program History, Funding, and Farm Bill Changes

These two programs were authorized by the Agriculture Risk Protection Act of 2000. Prior to Fiscal Year 2013, the Risk Management Education Partnerships program was known as the Risk Management Education and Outreach program, and was split into the Commodity Partnerships for Small Agricultural Risk Management Education Sessions program and the Community Outreach and Assistance Partnerships program. The Federal Crop Insurance Act provides mandatory funding of $12.5 million for both programs as well as other risk management activities, with not more than $5 million of that being used for the Crop Insurance Education in Targeted States program. Funding for the Education Partnerships and its predecessor program has been quite varied. While the funding is mandatory, RMA has the discretion to also spend the money on contracts to develop new products as well as on its own technology systems.

The Risk Management Partnership Agreements program was modified by the 2014 Farm Bill to add farm financial benchmarking to a long list of existing objectives that includes pest, labor, and weather risk education. Farm financial benchmarking involves comparing the performance of similar farms using data in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of an agricultural enterprise.

 

Risk Management Education Partnerships Program Annual Funds

Fiscal Year Total Annual Funds (in millions)
2012 $7.7
2013 $5
2014 $2
2015 $2
2016 $4.3

 

Crop Insurance Education In Targeted States

Fiscal Year Total Annual Funds (in millions) 
2012 $4.9
2013 $5
2014 $5
2015 $5
2016 $4.4

Authorizing Language

Section 522(d) of the Federal Crop Insurance Act (7 U.S.C. 1522(d)) authorizes that Risk Management Partnerships Programs. Section 524(a)(2) of the Federal Crop Insurance Act authorizes the Education for Underserved States program (7 U.S.C. 1522(c)(1) and (e)). 


Last updated in September 2016.