Because of the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending program flexibilities to Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) and agricultural producers until June 30, 2022 or later. Originally, these flexibilities were expiring this month.
“Our priority is to keep our producers and partners as safe as possible, while at the same time continuing to provide the best service we can,” said Marcia Bunger, Administrator of USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). “These unique times call for everyone to be cautious and as flexible as possible, and these added flexibilities will help us achieve those goals.”
Extended flexibilities include:
• Allowing notifications to be sent electronically, including policy related information over the phone or other electronic methods to select policy elections by sales closing, acreage reporting and production reporting dates, including options, endorsements and their forms. Producers may sign electronically or within 60 calendar days.
• Allowing producers to submit a request for a written agreement after the sales closing date.
• Allowing producers with inability to physically sign a written agreement because of COVID-19 to do so after the expiration date.
• Providing additional time for AIPs to accept Regional Office Determined Yield, Master Yield, and Irrigated Determined Yield requests for Category B (annual) crops.
• Allowing AIPs to request a 30-day extension to submit Determined Yield requests for Category C (perennial) crops.
• Waiving the witness signature requirement for approval of Assignments of Indemnity.
Additional details can be found in RMA’s Jan. 20, 2022 Manager’s Bulletin, the frequently asked questions or farmers.gov/coronavirus.
Additional Pandemic Assistance
These flexibilities are part of USDA’s broader response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, RMA recently provided $59.5 million in premium support for producers who planted cover crops on 12.2 million acres through the new Pandemic Cover Crop Program.
Also, USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers has provided additional support for producers by improving and retargeting existing programs and creating new efforts, like PCCP, to reach a broader set of producers. USDA is currently accepting applications for two new pandemic assistance programs: the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program by Feb. 4, 2022 and the Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program by Feb. 25, 2022.