NSAC's Blog

RMA Grants Expand Awareness of Risk Management Opportunities

November 10, 2017

Last week, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced projects funded through two programs that help educate farmers about how to mitigate production, financial, and other forms of risk on their farms. These grants were awarded through the Risk Management Education Partnership Program and the Risk Management Program in Targeted States.

Farm risk can take many forms. Traditionally, most people think of natural disaster risks (such as weather) which the federal crop insurance program directly addresses. However, there are many other kinds of risk involved in farming, including financial, human capital, production, and market risks, that can determine if a farm makes it from one year to the next. These two programs help give farmers the tools they need to mitigate these kinds of risks, while also educating farmers about the limitations of the risks covered by current federal crop insurance programs.

Additionally, with the introduction of Whole Farm Revenue Protection in 2015, which allows a farm to cover all of its crops and livestock under one crop insurance policy, a much wider variety of farms have real access to crop insurance policies that adequately address the needs of diverse production systems. These two programs are key to informing farmers about this new policy, which is the only policy currently available in every state and county in the country.

Spotlight on NSAC Members

This year, 76 separate partnership agreements were awarded through both programs, including 14 grants to National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition members. An additional 24 grants were awarded as part of the Targeted States program.

Recipients will be working with RMA to educate farmers on a variety of risk mitigation topics, including the following NSAC member-led projects:

  • California Farm Link will focus on providing information about risk management tools such as crop insurance and organic record-keeping, focusing on socially disadvantaged specialty crop producers and beginning farmers.
  • Northeast Organic Farming Association-New York will teach organic producers strategies to mitigate risks related to production decisions, marketing, legal, financial, and human risk. The project will focus on supporting long-term financial stability for farmers that that have historically not had access to these tools including small and limited resource communities.
  • Oregon State University will help farmers mitigate the risk of irrigation failure and the increasing risk of uneven water availability through dry land production of tomatoes and winter squash.
  • Tilth Alliance will teach beginning farmers and highly diversified operations that may assume that their size and scale of production precludes them from certain risk mitigation activities.
  • Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides’ project has the goal of improving producers’ economic stability through education on crop insurance, emerging markets, and alternative pest management strategies.
  • Oregon Tilth will focus on delivering risk management educational activities to an estimated 1,250 organic, transitioning, and beginning specialty crop farmers by helping farmers minimize the risks associated with starting a farm enterprise, achieving financial viability, and navigating organic transition.
  • Practical Farmers of Iowa will work towards the creation of an online specialty crop yield database. This unique data will help farmers access benchmark data, compare production yields to others in the state, encourage better recordkeeping practices, and access risk management products through links to RMA on the website.
  • Florida Organic Growers will create a series of online videos (including one Spanish-language video) featuring producers offering real-world solutions to the recordkeeping challenges that are important for making risk mitigating decisions related to production risk and crop insurance choices.
  • Center for Rural Affairs will focus on providing woman landowners the basic risk management knowledge required to make decisions about crop insurance options, production options, and other risk mitigation activities.
  • Organic Seed Alliance will optimize organic production system focused genetics through variety trails. Production system appropriate seed is an important risk management tool. A second OSA project will help organic seed producers reduce their financial risks through an organic seed economics intensive at the Organic Seed Growers Conference in Corvallis, Oregon.
  • Organic Farming Research Foundation will improve risk management among organic producers by increasing organic farmers’ knowledge about risk management products and risk-reducing soil-health strategies.

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. RMA administers the program as two separate initiatives to address both underserved states and individual producers or commodities.

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.

For more information on the program visit NSAC’s Grassroots Guide.

Categories: Commodity, Crop Insurance & Credit Programs, Grants and Programs, Research, Education & Extension

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