USDA Funding Available
Crop Insurance Education and Targeted States Programs
The Federal Crop Insurance Program, managed by the Risk Management Agency (RMA), provides subsidized coverage through private insurance companies to over $100 billion worth of agricultural products across 298 million acres. Despite a seemingly high level of farmer participation overall, many underserved, organic, diversified, and specialty crop farmers, particularly in NESAWG's 12-state region, lack information about and access to insurance policies tailored to their needs.
In order to improve access to risk management tools, RMA funds projects that conduct outreach, education, and training about these tools to underserved areas through its Risk Management Education (RME) and Targeted States (TS) programs. On Thursday, May 5, RMA announced $8.7 million in cooperative agreements funds to fund such projects. This is a great opportunity for organizations working with under-served farmers and ranchers to get funding for efforts that educate producers on Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) (a risk management tool of particular benefit to diversified farming operations) and other risk management tools.
For both the RME and TS programs, USDA is encouraging projects that use innovative approaches to provide education. They are seeking applicants with a history of success in outreach to underserved farmers and ranchers including: beginning farmers, legal immigrants, minority producers, veterans, women, producers who market their products as part of a local or regional food system, organic/transitioning producers, and producers living in areas designated as Strike Force or Promise Zone communities.
Risk Management Education Partnerships Program
RMA is directing $4.3 million of total funds toward cooperative agreements under the RME Partnership Program, which seeks to ensure that farmers are provided with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to make informed risk management decisions for their operations. The Partnership program will award up to $99,999 for each cooperative agreement, with no minimum award level.
The Partnership Program prioritizes applicants who help producers learn to use WFRP, marketing contracts, and other risk management tools. RMA requires that proposals address one or more of the five areas of risk (production, legal, financial, marketing, or human risk), and that offer:
- Crop insurance education (on specialty crops, organic products and WFRP, among others).
- Record Keeping Practices and Record Requirements (such as for Actual Production History yields, WFRP, proving a loss, organic production, and Farm Financial Benchmarking).
- Or programs targeting producers living in Strike Force or Promise Zone
RMA will also prioritize applications that direct 75 percent of their educational and training activities to producers of any one of the following three priority producer categories:
- Agricultural commodities such as aquaculture, floriculture, ornamental nursery crops, Christmas trees, and turf grass sod, among others.
- Specialty crop such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, honey, syrups, roots, herbs, among others.
- Underserved commodities such as commodities with below average participation in crop insurance, and commodities with inadequate crop insurance coverage.
Targeted States Program
This year the Targeted States (TS) Partnership Program is making $4.4 Million available to fund approximately 50 cooperative agreements. For FY 2016 awards will be capped at $700,000, with no minimum award level.
The TS program increases the delivery of crop insurance education programs in states with low levels of federal crop insurance availability and participation. All 12 states in the NESAWG region are covered by this program, as well as Utah, Wyoming, Alaska, Nevada, and Hawaii.
How to Apply
Applications for both programs are due by 11:59 p.m. EST on July 3, 2016. All applications must be submitted electronically through the Results Verification System website. This website provides a tutorial on how to apply. In addition, applicants can contact the Risk Management Education Division via phone at 202-720-0779 or email at RMA.Risk-Ed@rma.usda.gov. All awards will be finalized by September 9, 2016. Projects will be expected to start on September 30, 2016, and will last one year.
In the past few years, RMA has awarded between 43-94 RME cooperative agreements each year, with an average funding of $83,204, and 16 TS cooperative agreements each year, with an average funding of $312,500. In 2015, the Northeast region received 16 awards, totaling just over $4 million dollars. RMA does not list the names of the recipients who received funding, but descriptions of the awards are available on the RMA Northeast Region website.
Photo: diversified, organic specialty farm
Photo credit: Agweek/Silvia Jansen