California is the nation’s number one agriculture state and has been for more than 50 years, growing more than half of the nation’s fruits, vegetables, and nuts. We paid a visit to Richard Selover, a farmer in Colusa, CA, a small farming community in Northern California, approximately 75 miles north of Sacramento, to find out why crop insurance is important to his farming operation.
According to Selover, the city of Calusa represents about 80% of the gross product for the County of Calusa. The top commodities for the county include rice, tomatoes, almonds, and walnuts. The county also has a fair amount of cattle.
Selover grows rice, almonds, walnuts, wheat, and beans and has counted on crop insurance consecutively for the last 10 years. “We have used crop insurance to level out the perils throughout the years.” He says that crop insurance offers stability to his farm income, just like any other line of insurance you would purchase to protect your risks.
During our conversation, he explained how crop insurance protects against issues like late spring rains that cause excess moisture at planting time extending planting dates, late frost, and hailstorms. “Rice has a fairly long growing season, so we have to be careful not to get into the fall range, which can come in early and catch us on that side.” He went on to say “Over the years [crop insurance] has leveled out the playing field so we don’t have big income swings.”
According to University of California Cooperative Extension, rice is one of Calusa County’s major commodities, with approximately 500,000 acers planted yearly. Selover said “There is a lot of milling capacity here for rice, it’s a medium grain rice that’s shipped all over the world.” Further stating that “California is famous for their special rice varieties.”
When we asked him about the Environmental Working Group accusing farmers of “praying for drought, not praying for rain,” Selover replied, “We are in a drought right now, and NOBODY is praying for it. This is probably going to be, depending on how this pans out, economically devastating to our community that has been here for almost 200 years.”
To sum it all up, Selover states, “Not too many people profit from an insurance policy. All it does is protect you from the unexpected.”
In 2015, Federal Crop Insurance protected $8.8 billion of liability on growing crops in California. There were 5.8 million acres insured and more than $537 million was paid to farmers in indemnities for production and/or revenue losses. The private crop-hail insurance product provided an additional $37 million in liability protection.