USDA offers new and expanded hemp crop insurance options

Federal agriculture officials have announced additional coverage options through the pilot Multi-Peril Crop Insurance plan, allowing hemp producers more options for protecting their crops in the 2021 crop year.

“Hemp offers exciting economic opportunities for our nation’s farmers, and we are listening and responding to their risk management needs,” said Martin Barbre, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency.

Changes announced Monday include expanding the MPCI program to new states including select counties in Arizona, Arkansas, Nevada and Texas. The program also extends to 13 additional counties in states with existing coverage.

The expanded program also allows for broker contract for hemp grain and adjusts the program’s reporting and billing dates.

The RMA has also authorized “additional flexibilities” because of the coronavirus pandemic, including working through Approved Insurance Providers to process policies, claims and agreements. Farmers can learn more about conducting crop insurance business remotely through USDA’s dedicated coronavirus website.

As a newly legal crop, hemp is considered high-risk for a number of reasons, from unstable genetics to the high learning curve for growing the crop and the potential for crops to quickly become illegal marijuana if they test above the 0.3% federally legal THC limit.

But until 2020, hemp farmers and businesses did not have access to federal crop insurance programs.

To read more about risk mitigation for hemp operators, download the free report “Managing Risk in Uncertain Times: Strategies for Hemp Businesses.