U.S. Department of Agriculture updates apple crop insurance rules

| January 25, 2022 1:00 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), which oversees the government’s crop insurance programs, is asking for comments from apple growers after announcing proposed changes to the agency’s apple crop insurance rules.

“It is vital that we hear from producers and the public about possible updates to our policies and products,” said RMA Administrator Marcia Bunger in a press release. “Information from apple producers will help us create a more effective and beneficial service to America’s agricultural community.”

According to the press release, the 37 pages in proposed changes to the apple crop insurance program would allow apple producers to “elect coverage levels” to more effectively manage risk, apply for premium reductions based on orchard management practices (such as removing or grafting trees) that decrease an orchard’s productivity, allow producers to ensure apples sold directly to consumers or premium processors at a higher level, exclude apples sold “for the slicer market” from being considered fresh apples for insurance purposes, and introduce a “fresh fruit factor” that would allow growers to discount the market value of apples sold for a grade other than U.S. Fancy.

The USDA has provided the proposed changes for public inspection at the Federal Register website — https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2021-26989.

The RMA is also seeking comments on the proposed changes by no later than Feb. 14, 2022. Comments can also be submitted on the Federal Register’s website.

“Effective comments help others understand your perspective and how proposals will impact your farm or business,” the RMA press release said. “This help USDA best balance needs across impacted apple crop insurance participants.”

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.