USDA Eases Organic/Transitional Acreage Reporting Rules

( Sara Schafer )

The USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) is allowing organic and transitional farmers to report their acreage differently, citing stay-at-home orders and social distancing as the reason. Instead of in-person crop insurance conversations, producers can report acreage for the 2020 crop year if they can show they have requested a written certification from a certifying agent by their acreage reporting date.

“As the pandemic continues, RMA is also continuing to add more flexibilities to assist America’s farmers and ranchers,” said Martin Barbre, RMA administrator in a recent press release. “We will ensure that the Federal crop insurance program continues to serve the needs of our nation’s producers.”

Additional factors to know:

  • If you requested but did not receive an organic certificate, organic plan or other written documentation, notify your insurance agent within 30 days of them informing you of your organic plan or certificate status.
  • Policyholder notification can be made via phone, email, text or other electronic communications. Approved Insurance Providers (AIPS) must document the policyholder’s notification.
  • The policyholders must either sign digitally at the time of submission or need to follow up with signed forms no later than July 15, 2020.

This announcement for organic comes after an earlier announcement concerning crop insurance for all producers. This includes reporting date extensions, additional time and interest deferral on premium payments, written payment agreements and electronic notifications for any required reports.

Challenges for organic

Processing challenges aren’t just limited to conventional production, organic livestock producers feel the pain, too. Mercaris, which reports on organic markets, is noting a drop in certain organic livestock production.

There is an estimated 20% to 30% drop in April organic poultry production due to COVID-19, said Mercaris Economist Ryan Koory in an email.

Information for conventional growers:

USDA Loosens Certain Crop Insurance Criteria