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Considering Crop Insurance?

With the September 30, 2011, Deadline Approaching, Beekeepers are Encouraged to Consider Enrolling in the Pilot Crop Insurance Program

For 2012, the “Apiculture Pilot Insurance Program” is available in 29 states – up from 21 states at the program’s start. The program is offered by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) of USDA and is sold through insurance agencies that sell crop insurance to farmers.

There are two programs under study in the pilot program. The beekeeper is not actually insuring honey production. Rather, the policy covers rainfall or vegetation “greening” in the locations where the bees are located.

In 19 states, plus eastern Colorado, rainfall is the basis of the insurance. In nine states, plus western Colorado, it is based on a vegetation index or greening. Rainfall data is from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the vegetation index data is from the U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science Data Center.

Neither pilot program insures the honey crop directly. Instead, the assumption is that the lack of rainfall – or lack of greening – in an area will be translated to reduced honey production. The deviation from normal will be applied to a beekeeper’s normal honey production and a payment made. The pilot program will be in effect for several years as RMA determines which approach is better.

For complete details on the pilot program, including a map and a county-by-county list showing program availability, visit http://www.rma.usda.gov/policies/ri-vi/apiculture.html. A directory of authorized insurance agencies is also available on the website.

Beekeepers are also reminded of the December 1, 2011, deadline to sign up for the Non-Insured Crop Program (NAP). This is available at offices of USDA-FSA and is a prerequisite for participation in any of USDA’s disaster programs.


The ABF Board of Directors realizes there are deficiencies with the pilot crop insurance program. Rather than insuring your honey crop, you would be, in essence, making a bet on the weather, which is often the largest influence on honey production. Unfortunately, the pilot program is structured to insure against only the lack of rainfall. Certainly, excess rainfall could be just as much an issue as too little. The pilot program is an exploratory program. The ABF is working with USDA to improve the program to make it more useful for beekeepers.

posted August 2011

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