As we are in the middle of a tough year, one that might be referred to historically like 1988, it's not fun to go out and inspect your crops. This is a great year to have purchased high levels of crop insurance. So what now?
Before you get into the field with plans to cut silage or bale beans, make sure you contact your ag risk insurance adviser. Different situations have different rules. You may be required to leave a strip for purposes of adjustment. Avoid the risk of messing up the claim or making it more complicated than it needs to be.
Irrigation can add a level of complexity. More than a thousand irrigators across Nebraska last week were ordered to stop pumping from rivers and streams. Because the order is connected to the drought, this situation may be covered by crop insurance. It's important to get an adjuster out right away to take pictures of what the crop looked like when the water was shut off, and then have them back to re-inspect at harvest. The two pictures will be able to demonstrate the impact of the loss of irrigation water (the peril). This situation requires some additional verification, but should be covered if the insured and the agent do their part. This particular procedure came from one crop insurance company that we work with in Nebraska. Different companies may have different procedures – so check with your agent!
If a farmer makes a decision to shut off the water because it, or the electricity, is getting too expensive – that's a different situation entirely. It's NOT an insurable loss. Increased costs might be painful – but given where prices have been recently and the tightness of supplies, think about the big picture and the price you could get for your crop. A financial analysis will help you work through the pain of increased input prices.
This year's weather will put a number of farmers on the radar screen of the Risk Management Agency, triggering high dollar claims reviews. If your claim will be more than $200,000 (including yield and revenue claims) in one county on one crop, you should plan for an audit, unless you just went through one last year. To prepare, you'll need to have acceptable production records for the current crop year and the three previous crop years. Acceptable records include records of production commercially sold to a disinterested third party, appraisals for un-harvested acreage, and bin measurements. Yield monitor data can be used as supporting evidence or to establish production per unit, but it is not sufficient on its own. Scale tickets may also be used to prevent commingling of grain between units.
Bottom line, it's a disaster. Make it less stressful by following these suggestions. They can speed payments and keep you eligible.
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