We may be one step closer to convincing Governor Kristi Noem that it’s o.k. to grow hemp. The USDA has approved selling crop insurance to hemp farmers in 2020:
Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles applauded today’s announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that certain hemp growers may obtain insurance coverage under the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection Program in 2020.
“This is an important step toward reviving the hemp industry in the United States,” Commissioner Quarles said. “We are grateful to the Risk Management Agency and Administrator Barbre for providing this opportunity for hemp growers to protect their investment” [staff, “Quarles Commends USDA for Hemp Announcement,” Middlesboro Daily News, 2019.08.27].
Here’s the full release, straight from the USDA Risk Management Agency:
WASHINGTON, August 27, 2019 — Certain industrial hemp growers will be able to obtain insurance coverage under the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) program for crop year 2020. USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) today announced coverage for hemp grown for fiber, flower or seeds, which will be available to producers who are in areas covered by USDA-approved hemp plans or who are part of approved state or university research pilot programs.
“Numerous producers are anxious for a way to protect their hemp crops from natural disasters,” said RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. “The WFRP policy will provide a safety net for them. We expect to be able to offer additional hemp coverage options as USDA continues implementing the 2018 Farm Bill.”
Producers can obtain WFRP coverage for hemp now if they are part of a Section 7606 state or university research pilot as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Other producers cannot obtain coverage until a USDA-approved plan is in place.
WFRP allows coverage of all revenue for commodities produced on a farm up to a total insured revenue of $8.5 million. It is popular for specialty crops, organic commodities and non-traditional crops.
The 2018 Farm Bill amended the Controlled Substances Act to address how industrial hemp is to be defined and regulated at the federal level, and those modifications cleared the way for the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to offer policies for it. The Farm Bill defines hemp as containing 0.3 percent or less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a dry weight basis.
RMA has started addressing the changes by offering hemp coverage under WFRP for the 2020 crop year. To be eligible, among other requirements, a hemp producer must comply with applicable state, tribal or federal regulations for hemp production and have a contract for the purchase of the insured industrial hemp.
WFRP provisions state that hemp having THC above the compliance level will not constitute an insurable cause of loss. Additionally, hemp will not qualify for replant payments under WFRP.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is formulating regulations that will include specific details for both a USDA plan for the production of hemp and a process for submission of state, territorial or tribal plans to USDA. AMS is developing the regulation now, which is anticipated to post to the Federal Register later this year.
Once rulemaking is complete, RMA, the Farm Service Agency (FSA), the Natural Resources Conservation Service and other USDA agencies will share eligibility information on their programs, which include safety net, conservation, farm loan and disaster assistance programs. This includes FSA looking at additional coverage options through its Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program and through RMA-administered crop insurance.
For more information on WFRP coverage, visit the Hemp and Farm Bill Programs webpage on farmers.gov. RMA will publish a bulletin with additional information for approved insurance providers on Aug. 30 [USDA-RMA, press release, 2019.08.27].
First Dude Bryon Noem of Noem Insurance Inc. is surely eager to see that guidance for insurers coming out on Friday. Noem has not yet posted his response to this opportunity to help you manage your hemp risk; his agency’s Facebook page offers only a slow trickle of dreary imitations of DeSmet Farm Mutual’s folksy “Memories” marketing ploy, repackaged by Bryon as “Memories in Cleveland Township.” Maybe Bryon can work up some nice Hemp Memories:
…My grandpa told me about the good old days when he and his buddies one time snuck out behind the church after Sunday School and tried to smoke some hemp. They’d heard hemp could make crazy city people dance like chickens, so they’d “borrowed” a few leaves of hemp from old Smoky Röllvag’s field, dried and crumbled ’em, and rolled what they had into some pages torn from the Farmer’s Almanac. Boy, did they have another think coming! Old Smoky grew industrial hemp, not the smoking kind. The only dancing was done by their breakfast, which jumped right out of their stomachs and onto their shoes.
Grandpa learned his lesson that day: you can’t smoke industrial hemp. But now you sure can insure it! After government took that crop away from us, government is giving it back. Call Noem Insurance today for a quote on a policy for next year’s most promising cash crop!
Stay tuned: if the USDA guidance to insurers looks sufficiently promising, maybe the missus will call a Special Session to put a state plan in place for USDA approval so the mister can start writing policies for all of his hemprepreneurial neighbors in Cleveland Township.