Posted October 23, 2014
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced a new Farm Bill initiative that will provide relief to farmers that were affected by severe weather, including drought, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) news release available here. Agri-Pulse also published an article available here, Hoosier Ag here, and Politico here.
The Actual Production History (APH) Yield Exclusion will be available nationwide in spring 2015, and it allows eligible producers, those who have suffered severe weather, to receive a higher approved yield on their insurance policies through the federal crop insurance program.
Crops eligible for APH Yield Exclusion include corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, grain sorghum, rice, barley, canola, sunflowers, peanuts, and popcorn. Almost three-fourths of all acres and liability in the federal crop insurance program will be covered under APH Yield Exclusion.
Secretary Tom Vilsack said the provision allows growers to manage their risk more efficiently, according to Hoosier Ag Today.
“Key programs launched or extended as part of the 2014 Farm Bill are essential to USDA’s commitment to help rural communities grow. These efforts give farmers, ranchers, and their families better security as they work to ensure Americans have safe and affordable food. By getting other 2014 Farm Bill programs implemented efficiently, we are now able to offer yield exclusion for Spring 2015 crops, providing relief to farmers impacted by severe weather,” said Vilsack.
The original implementation date was scheduled for 2016. The earlier release will be an extra burden for crop insurance companies. Vilsack’s staff and the Risk Management Agency (RMA), which oversees the federal crop insurance program, have “downplayed” the politics surrounding the situation, according to Politico.
“It’s not about elections; it’s not about politics. It’s about good, hard-working people doing their job and doing a helluva job,” said Vilsack.
David Cleavinger, a Texas Wheat Producers Association (TWPA) board member and Texas farmer, said that without this APH change, after several years of severe drought his crop insurance coverage will continue to erode. 
“I haven’t harvested an acre of dryland wheat since 2010,” said Cleavinger. “I ran very conservative figures on one dryland wheat section in Deaf Smith County, and by dropping the yields from three qualifying years, I would be able to increase my APH from 23 bushels per acre, to 28.”
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., commended Secretary Vilsack and his team on their implementation efforts.
“The APH adjustment means everything to farmers all across the country who have suffered through year after year of devastating drought conditions. It is the difference between having viable crop insurance for the coming year or not. It is for these reasons that I worked to include the APH adjustment in the farm bill and why I am pleased the Secretary redoubled his efforts to get it done this year. I remain hopeful that USDA will also work to make the same relief available to winter wheat producers,” said Lucas.
For more information on farm bills and disaster programs, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here and here.