In its formative years, Federal crop insurance was available for only a handful of commodities. For example, in 1948 insurance was only available for wheat, cotton, flax, corn and tobacco for a total of 391 county-crop programs. Today the program insures more than 100 commodities and 127,000 county-crop programs. All told, for 2019 over 1.1 million policies earned premium covering all 50 states and over 90 percent of major crop farmland resulting in nearly $110 billion of crop coverage. Because crop insurance premium support is size neutral, every eligible farmer, large or small, may purchase crop insurance.
While major field crops, such as corn, soybeans, cotton, peanuts, and wheat account for the most acreage protected by crop insurance, they also account for most of the acreage farmed today. As the crop insurance industry has matured, extensive efforts have been made to work collaboratively with Congress, RMA, farmers, and other private sector parties to increase the crops and available areas that may be covered by expanding to new crops, types and practices through various pilot programs, and developing targeted endorsements, special provisions, and new plans of insurance to meet the ever-changing and expanding needs of a diverse U.S. agriculture.
Through these means, crop insurance has successfully expanded to many new specialty crops, organic crops and practices, as well as to pasture, range, forage and livestock products. New insurance plans, such as Actual Revenue History and Whole Farm Revenue Protection, have been designed to improve coverage for specialty crop and diversified farmers.
The result of these ongoing efforts has been an increase in affordable financial protection for many types of farms across the country. An article on specialty crop insurance notes that “Considering the different perils faced and the available alternative risk management approaches, the average participation rate for insurable specialty crops is a respectable 75 percent.” Such program growth continues to be a high priority, given the reduced role of traditional farm programs and the increased reliance on crop insurance to uphold the financial security of U.S. farms.
Check out how crop insurance has your state covered here.
* Updated April 2020