Crop Insurance: A Tool for Farmers and Ranchers

Brown Beef Cattle
18 Dec 2019

As we get into the winter months and try to turn the page to next year, we look back on what could be explained as a difficult fall season in 2019.  When we go through difficult seasons, we start to think of what tools we have or are available to help us if difficult times were to hit again.  One tool we like to consider is crop insurance.  Looking into crop insurance, we can get into many details and topics that affect farmers. However, there is one group that we sometimes forget to think about. What about ranchers? Does crop insurance have programs or policies to help out cattle and livestock operations?  The answer is yes. 

Crop insurance has many different policies and plans available to cover most crops out in the field, but we have other tools in our belts as well.  We have ways to help protect the cattle and livestock operations.  Ranchers are feeling the effects of poor markets and the ever-changing weather right alongside our farmers. As times get difficult there is more need for some peace of mind. We can help ranchers and livestock operations answer some questions like: What will we do if we get another dry year and pastures don’t grow? How are we going to make it with feeder calf prices dropping? Can we afford to buy the hay we need because our hay ground came up short?  All of these questions are tough, but there are options out there to help. 

Like revenue protection for grain farmers, there are protection policies available for livestock and milk. Most approved insurance providers (AIP) offer both Livestock Revenue Protection (LRP) and Dairy Revenue Protection (DRP) policies. These policies allow farmers to take some stances in the market to help protect against price swings. By doing so, a farming operation can better weather some of the movement in the market. Another option ranchers can look into is a Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) policy for feeder cattle, swine and some limited dairy.  This policy helps protect a portion of a target gross margin while assisting ranchers with feed costs and the ever moving market. 

The markets are only one part of the problem ranchers are facing. The effect weather has on pasture and forage land is a big issue. When we get too dry the grass doesn’t grow. When tough conditions present themselves it’s hard to put up hay. There are policies to help these needs as well. Forage seeding and forage production policies help cover hay fields that under perform or suffer winter kill in the frigid temperatures. On the flip side, there is also protection for when things get to dry. Pasture Rangeland Forage (PRF) policies are based off of rain fall indexes that help counter act the effects of dry spells throughout the season. Here, ranchers are able to select periods in time when they believe rainfall is needed for their pastures and forage fields.  

In tough years we need tools to help us continue to do the work we love. Crop insurance is a great tool and can help not only our nation’s farmers, but is also for ranchers and livestock operations. As we get ready to tackle another year in 2020, take some time to contact your local AgCountry insurance specialist and ask about what protections are available to fit your operation.