THE GOOD NEWS is federal crop insurance does cover lost production due to an outbreak of soybean rust. The bad news is if growers do not spray rust-infected soybean fields, they may not be able to collect insurance money on the lost yield, according to the Coarse Grains Crop Provisions outlined by the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA).
What happens if there just aren't enough sprayers available? Shirley Pugh, RMA director of public affairs, says, “If you have done everything that you possibly can and you still can't get your crop sprayed, you are covered.” However, growers need to be prepared to prove that they have made every possible effort to get the crop sprayed.
Pugh says a soybean producer should notify his crop insurance agent at the first sign that he is not going to be able to perform good farming practices, such as the inability to spray his crop because he cannot find a sprayer. “But if you are the only grower in your county who says he couldn't get a sprayer when everybody else got their soybeans sprayed, you may get some questions about that,” she says.
“If a farmer chooses not to apply fungicides just because he thinks it costs too much and he is speculating he would make more money by letting the crop die and collecting the insurance, it will not be a covered loss if there are sufficient control measures available,” Pugh cautions. The RMA and insurance providers will be monitoring when outbreaks occur in an area to determine if an insured producer could have applied recommended fungicides in a timely manner.
“So regardless of the cost of the fungicide, if that is what is recommended to you by your local experts, and that is what everyone else in your area is doing, then that is what you have to do, regardless of the cost,” Pugh says. “If you want to collect insurance on any losses, you will have to have followed the recommendations.”