The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, commonly referred to as the 2018 Farm Bill, strengthened crop insurance by adding new products and directing research to the development of products for additional crops and modifying existing programs to address non-traditional agricultural commodities and/or production and marketing systems and issues related to catastrophic crop losses. These actions will increase crop insurance’s role as a key component of the farm safety net. In addition, the bill makes a number of changes to the details of individual parts of the crop insurance system with a view to improving the delivery and management system and working more closely with other allied USDA agencies.
Among the new programs is the addition of hemp to the list of commodities that will be eligible for insurance. Direction for research includes the development of polices to insure the production of or revenue derived from the production of hops, the production of products targeted to local consumers and markets, new and innovative irrigation practices for rice and improvements in existing citrus fruit policies.
The bill places an emphasis on the development of continued growth in the Whole Farm Revenue Polices (WFRP). Specifically, the bill directs RMA to take steps necessary to streamline, add flexibility or tailor program rules to make WFRP provide meaningful risk protection for non-traditional agricultural commodities (e.g. aquaculture) or production and marketing systems (e.g. urban, local food, or greenhouses), that are not served as well under current yield or revenue-based policies for individual crops.
The bill also directs FCIC to carry out research on the development of polices that would address low frequency, catastrophic losses due to weather events such as tropical storms or hurricanes. Such policies would address production and/or revenue losses. These policies would be designed to address situations such as the storm damage to crops in 2017 and 2018 where high levels of participation at low levels of coverage resulted in passage of additional ad hoc disaster assistance.
*Updated July 2019