The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, has extended program flexibilities for Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) and agricultural producers through June 30, 2022 or later. These flexibilities were originally set to expire this month.
“Our priority is to keep our producers and partners as safe as possible, while at the same time continuing to provide the best service we can,” said Marcia Bunger, administrator of USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). “These unique times demand that we all be cautious and as flexible as possible, and these added flexibilities will help us achieve those goals.”
Those expanded flexibilities include:
– Allowing notifications to be sent electronically, including policy-related information by phone or other electronic methods to select policy elections by sales closing, acreage report and production report dates, including options, endorsements and their forms. Producers may sign electronically or within 60 calendar days.
– Allow producers to submit a written settlement request after the sales closing date.
– Allow producers who cannot physically sign a written agreement due to COVID-19 to do so after the due date.
– Provide additional time for AIPs to accept Regional Office Determined Yield, Master Yield, and Irrigated Determined Yield applications for Category B (annual) crops.
– Allow AIPs to request a 30-day extension to submit Determined Yield applications for Category C (perennial) crops.
– Waiving the witness signature requirement for approval of indemnity assignments.
Additional details can be found in the January 20, 2022 RMA Manager’s Bulletin, FAQs, or at farmers.gov/coronavirus.
Additional Pandemic Assistance
These flexibilities are part of USDA’s broader response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the Risk Management Agency recently provided $59.5 million in premium support for producers who planted cover crops on 12.2 million acres through the new Pandemic Cover Crop Program.
In addition, USDA’s Pandemic Producer Assistance has provided additional support to producers by enhancing and refocusing existing programs and creating new efforts, such as PCCP, to reach a broader set of producers. USDA is currently accepting applications for two new pandemic assistance programs: the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program, through February 4, 2022, and the Spot Market Swine Pandemic Program, through February 25, 2022.