Growers and Other Stakeholders Invited to Listening Session on Federal Insurance for Crops Produced with Limited Irrigation

Farmers know better than most people that fresh water is a precious commodity. In some areas, major crops are generally irrigated, while in other areas irrigation is used primarily to supplement natural rainfall. Each state has unique systems for determining who gets water and how much they get. Throughout the United States there are areas where the amount of irrigation water available to producers can vary from year to year, and can be significantly impacted by drought. In some areas, this means less water is available for agricultural use, particularly in recent years.

Because some farmers are being required to use less water while others are being offered alternative approaches to their water allocations, production of irrigated crops is changing. Many producers already face reductions from their historical water use; others will in the future. These reductions come from a variety of reasons including reduced well capacity, compliance with interstate river compacts, Intensive Groundwater Use Control Areas (IGUCAs), and water right administration policies. The reduction in the supply of irrigation water creates challenges for the farmers who use the water, the organizations that manage water use, and the public/private sector programs that insure farmers’ yields or revenues.

As a result, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Risk Management Agency (RMA) is evaluating how Federal Crop Insurance currently addresses producers intending to apply reduced irrigation. Furthermore, RMA is evaluating the feasibility of establishing a limited irrigation guarantee for producers who apply less water than they may have historically applied to their irrigated acreage. This USDA initiative has led RMA to issue a contract to study initially the impacts of “limited irrigation” on crop insurance offers for corn and soybeans in select counties in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. For the study, "imited irrigation" is defined by RMA as "a method of producing a crop by which less water is artificially applied during the growing season by appropriate systems and at the proper times than the quantity of water that was used to establish the irrigated production guarantee or amount of insurance on the irrigated acreage planted to the insured crop."

As part of the contract study, two listening sessions are being held to gather input from interested stakeholders. One will be in Colby, Kansas, Community Building (285 E. 5th Avenue) on March 13, 2013 at 9:00 AM. The second will be in Kearney, Nebraska, at the Buffalo County Extension Building at the Fairgrounds (1400 E. 34 Street) on March 14, 2013 at 10:00 A.M. Grower, insurance industry, and other interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend and share their concerns and feedback about limited irrigation and ideas to address the crop insurance consequences of the changing irrigation water situation in future years.

For more information contact:
Randy Landgren
Project Manager
Watts and Associates, Inc. under contract to USDA RMA