February 23, 2005

Crapo And Craig Want Apple Crop Insurance Extended

Senators join bipartisan coalition to call on USDA for extension

Washington, DC â?? Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig joined with a bipartisan coalition of Senators from around the country to urge the USDA to improve crop insurance coverage for all apple farmers in Idaho and across the country. The group sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to urge her to extend crop insurance coverage to fresh-market and processing apples for the 2004 crop year. The present crop insurance policy for apples only covers low-grade, low-priced juice apples.â??While the USDA has been cooperative in working with the industry over this issue, it must expedite the development and approval of the fresh-market apple insurance coverage,â?? said Senator Crapo, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. â??Crop insurance is a valuable tool to help farmers protect their livelihoods, particularly during drought periods. Idahoâ??s farmers deserve insurance coverage that reflects their business needs.â??â??In just the last few years, farmers have experienced millions of dollars in quality and production damage due to devastating frost, drought, and other extremes,â?? Senator Craig said. â??Making available increased coverage and broader risk management opportunities as self-help tools are common sense policies. I encourage the USDA to continue their efforts in this regard.â??The present basic insurance policy for apples covers losses only when apples meet cider-grade standards. There is a buy-up option for farmers who wish to purchase coverage for fresh apples, but the option doesnâ??t adequately protect farmers against adverse weather damage. Craig and Crapo want the USDA to make improvements to the apple crop insurance coverage available for the 2004 crop year. The improved policy would include options to upgrade coverage from the cider grade and would provide adequate coverage against realistic market quality defect standards and weather-related perils.The USDAâ??s Risk Management Agency is already working with industry representatives to improve the apple crop insurance policy. However, Crapo and Craig are concerned that the policy will not be finalized for farmers to purchase coverage for the 2004 crop year.A copy of the letter follows this news release.# # #April 11, 2003The Honorable Ann Veneman SecretaryUnited States Department of Agriculture1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.Washington, D.C. 20250 Dear Secretary Veneman:We are writing to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to make improved crop insurance coverage on fresh and processing apples available for the 2004 crop year.Risk management tools are a critical component of helping farmers protect their livelihoods in the face of unpredictable weather and volatile markets. The crop insurance programs administered through USDAâ??s Risk Management Agency have helped many farmers weather the storms in recent years; however, many specialty crop producers need USDAâ??s assistance to improve the policies available to them. For example, adequate crop insurance coverage is simply not available for producers of high quality, fresh and processed market apples. The present basic insurance policy for apples covers losses only when apples do not meet cider grade standards, and optional buy-up fresh apple coverage does not protect adequately against adverse weather damage. Apple farmers who choose to pursue the higher returns in the fresh fruit and processing markets are unable to insure the crop and their significant investment in production. We applaud USDA for working with the industry, including the U.S. Apple Association and other regional apple organizations, to hear their risk management needs and address them in an actuarially sound manner. Risk Management Agency staff has been working diligently to draft a policy that would adequately cover all apples. The policy would include options to upgrade coverage from the cider grade as well as cover realistic market quality defect standards and weather related perils. Apple farmers need to have adequate coverage for their businessâ?? needs available, even if the higher levels of coverage come at a higher insurance premium. We understand that changes to the policy need to be in place by August 31, 2003, in order to be in effect for the 2004 apple crop year. We urge USDA to expedite the development and approval of the revised apple insurance coverage by this date so that apple growers across the country have access to adequate risk management tools for the next crop year.Farmers want insurance coverage that reflects their business needs. They prefer the opportunity to better manage weather-related risk with viable crop insurance. Apple farmers need crop insurance policies that adequately cover the commodity that they produce and the risks that they face for the 2004 crop year and beyond.We thank you for your timely attention to the concerns of apple farmers across the country regarding their crop insurance needs.Sincerely,s/Mike Crapo, IdahoLarry Craig, IdahoZell Miller, GeorgiaCarl Levin, MichiganSusan Collilns, MaineJames Jeffords, VermontPatrick Leahy, VermontDebbie Stabenow, MichiganOlympia Snowe, MaineLindsey Graham, South CarolinaCharles Schumer, New YorkNorm Coleman, MinnesotaRick Santorum, PennsylvaniaArlen Specter, PennsylvaniaRussell Feingold, WisconsinGordon Smith, OregonRon Wyden, OregonBarbara Boxer, CaliforniaDianne Feinstein, CaliforniaGeorge Allen, VirginiaPatty Murray, WashingtonHillary Rodham Clinton, New YorkMaria Cantwell, WashingtonJohn Warner, VirginiaEdward Kennedy, Massachusetts