The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently invested about $3.3 million in two new partnerships that will train and equip the next generation of crop insurance agents, adjusters and outreach educators about crop insurance options. These partnerships with the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) and the University of Arkansas’ Southern Risk Management Education Center further efforts by USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) to broaden participation in crop insurance, especially among underserved producers.
“Crop insurance strengthens American agriculture, and we want to make sure all farmers, especially those traditionally left behind, are aware of the tools available to manage risk,” said RMA Administrator Marcia Bunger. “We have a lot of work to do to engage underserved producers in our risk management tools. These two partnerships will let us engage with communities that have historically lacked access to resources and education. Both partnerships aim to cultivate creativity and innovation as they work to empower, educate and provide outreach to underserved producers.”
The Intertribal Agricultural Council (IAC), about $1.9 million: RMA and the IAC will strategically engage with minority-serving institutions and underserved stakeholder groups that will train, credential, and establish a pipeline of crop insurance agents and adjusters within underserved agricultural communities. The initiative’s goal is to increase the representation of underserved insurance agents and loss adjusters providing service to underserved communities.
Kari Jo Lawrence, Executive Director of the IAC, said: “I commend USDA’s Risk Management Agency for investing in this project and understanding that designing and implementing programs that engage community members directly increases impact and reduces inefficiencies. Joining forces with our partners-Rural Coalition, Annie’s Project and Alcorn State University-enhances delivery efforts in all sectors of historically underserved communities. It also ensures a lasting effect across the crop insurance sector to deliver available risk management options.”
The Southern Risk Management Education Center at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, about $1.4 million: This partnership will strengthen outreach and technical assistance to underserved farmers and ranchers through the development of risk management program navigators. These navigators will be program specialists trained by project collaborators to provide strategic outreach and engage underserved agricultural populations about federal crop insurance.
Ronald Rainey, Professor and Assistant Vice-President at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said: “The University of Arkansas’ Southern Risk Management Education Center is excited to leverage its risk management expertise and grass-roots relationships developed across the region to enhance understanding of RMA products and services. A collection of aligned project activities will intentionally seek to enhance engagement with communities and farmers who have been historically underserved by federal crop insurance.”
These partners were chosen because they have a proven track record of success working with RMA and have the infrastructure needed to be successful in strengthening the education and outreach on increasing adoption of risk management tools in underserved agricultural communities. The University of Arkansas has expertise and vast knowledge of working with underserved producers in the Southeastern region. IAC has a track record of success working with Native Americans, and they will be partnering with three other entities that have knowledge and experience working with underserved communities.
In addition to the $3.3 million investment noted above for the two new partnerships, RMA has invested $3.19 million since 2021 in partnerships involving 25 projects with dozens of awardees (and sub-awardees) to expand outreach and education on crop insurance through the Risk Management Education Partnership Program, authorized under Section 522(d) of the Federal Crop Insurance Act. Additionally, RMA has launched a new “Roadshow” to provide information on two key insurance options for underserved, specialty crop, organic and small-scale producers – Whole-Farm Revenue Protection and Micro Farm. For additional information about RMA’s outreach and education efforts and the Roadshow, visit RMA’s Outreach and Education webpage.
Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator. Learn more about crop insurance and the modern farm safety net at rma.usda.gov.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.