Does Crop Insurance Cover Losses to My Vines?

By: Trevor Troyer, 
Vice President 
Agricultural Risk Management, LLC

  Does crop insurance cover losses to my vines? What can I do about my vine loss? Half of my vineyard got burned down due to wildfires. I have major freeze damage on my Vitis vinifera my natives are fine though. What can you do? Crop insurance only covers losses to your grape crop not your vines. Is there any vine coverage or assistance for that?

  Yes there is! I get a lot of questions on this so thought to address it in this article.

  The Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill) authorized the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) to provide financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters. – fsa.usda.gov. This is not administered through a crop insurance agent or agency. This is not an insurance product. It is disaster assistance administered through the USDA.

  There are limitations to this program on who can receive money. A lot of large vineyards will not be eligible. There is size limit of 1,000 acres. There is an income limit as well. In applying the limitation on average adjusted gross income (AGI), a person or legal entity is ineligible for payment under TAP if the AGI of the person or legal entity for the relevant tax years exceeds $900,000. – FSA Disaster Assistance Tree Assistance Program

Ok what is considered an eligible loss?

•    A requisite death loss must first be sustained; a stand of eligible trees, bushes, or vines must have suffered more than a 15 percent mortality loss (after normal mortality) due to a natural disaster;

•    Mortality loss on a stand of eligible trees, bushes, or vines is based on:

•    Each eligible disaster event, except for losses due to plant disease; and

•    For plant disease, the time period as determined by the FSA for which the stand is 
infected.

•    The loss must not have been preventable through reasonable and available measures;

•    The loss must be visible and obvious to the FSA representative; if the loss is no longer 
visible, FSA may accept other loss evidence and determine whether that other evidence 
substantiates that an eligible loss due to natural disaster occurred; and

•    FSA may require information from a qualified expert to determine extent of loss in the 
case of plant disease or insect infestation. – fsa.usda.gov 
Payments are calculated as follows: 
For tree, bush, or vine replacement, replanting and/or rehabilitation, the payment calculation is the lesser of the following:

•    65 percent of the actual cost of replanting, in
excess of 15 percent mortality (adjusted for normal mortality), and, where applicable, 50 percent of the actual cost of rehabilitation, in excess of 15 percent damage or mortality (adjusted for normal tree damage and normal mortality); or

•    The maximum eligible amount established for the practice by FSA. -fsa.usda.gov

  What you do as a farmer is important. Whether your grapes are going to make wine or juice it is something that feeds and nourishes us, both physically and spiritually. I sometimes hear from growers that they don’t want assistance whether it is crop insurance or disaster relief. I understand. Our farmers and ranchers are independent people that, most often, can handle what mother nature throws at them. Our tax dollars go into these USDA programs, to me, it’s alright to get help when needed. Why shouldn’t you get some of your tax dollars back to keep you growing. It might seem like a pain to fill in the applications etc. The FSA employees are dedicated to helping you. Take advantage of what is available, you paid for it.

  The Tree Assistance Program is administered through the USDA Farm Service Agency. To find your local FSA office, go to farmers.gov. You can also find more information at disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

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