Practical Guidelines to File Crop Insurance Losses Due to the Derecho

Alejandro Plastina

Written by Alejandro Plastina, Extension Economist, plastina@iastate.edu

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Overview of the Crop Insurance Claim Process

Wind is a covered event in Multi-Peril Crop Insurance and farmers whose insured crop acres have been affected by the Derecho may be eligible for indemnity payments.

Affected farmers should file a Notice of Loss (NOL) with their crop insurance agent within 72 hours of the initial time of discovery of damage or loss and follow up in writing within 15 days. When filing a timely NOL is not feasible, a delayed NOL may be accepted.

The NOL allows the Approved Insurance Provider (AIP) to contact the policyholder and make a determination in a case-by-case basis whether an indemnity will be paid. That decision will depend both on field conditions and farmer’s decisions:

A. If the AIP determines that field conditions will prevent farmers from ever being able to mechanically harvest the crop, that production will be considered a full loss.

B. Otherwise, the farmer can choose to:
1. Settle the case based on appraised production; or
2. Take the crop to harvest.

If a farmer chooses to harvest the crop (even if they chose option 1 in the first place), the producer must accept the highest of harvested production or appraised production for claims purposes. Farmers who choose option 1 first and then decide to harvest the crop must file a revised claim.

Practical Guidance for Farmers

Iowa corn field damaged by the August 10, 2020 derecho, photo by Meaghan Anderson, ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomist
  1. Contact your crop insurance agent as soon as possible, and file a NOL.
  1. If you want an immediate release of the field for another use, you can request the use of Representative Sample Areas or RSAs by the AIP. These are areas of a field that the AIP authorizes to leave untouched for later appraisal when an accurate appraisal cannot be made at the present time. Appraisals from the RSAs of the unharvested crop acreage are later used to settle the claim.
  1. You can salvage any remaining crop for use as silage, but your indemnity payment might be affected depending on how the crop is insured:
    a. For corn insured for Grain, once the AIP releases the field for another use, you can harvest for silage without penalty.
    b. For corn insured for Silage, if you agree to settle in appraised production, but you still attempt to harvest for silage, you must accept the higher of the appraised or the harvested production for claim purposes.
  1. You can hay or graze a second crop without penalty if the ground has been released for another use by the AIP, it is not practical to replant the insured crop, and the second crop will not be insured. This might be of interest to farmers who use cover crops.
  1. The only case in which you are required to physically destroy your crop production is when grain production is mature and no local buyers are willing to purchase it (typically due to molds and toxins in the mature grain), and it is not economical to ship it to other buyers. This is the case of a crop with Zero Market Value (ZMV), and destruction should take place whether the grain has been harvested or is still in the field.
  1. A Claims Advisory from the Risk Management Agency on August 21, 2020 indicated that the damaged crop in the released field for another use is not required to be harvested (even for RSAs appraisals).
  1. If you or someone you know are in need of assistance with stress and disaster management, call or visit online the Iowa Concern Hotline. Trained staff will assist you 24/7 and free of charge when you dial 1-800-447-1985 or go on-line.

Crop Insurance and Farm Finances

An estimated 87% of corn and 90% of soybean acres planted in 2020 are protected by crop insurance purchased by farmers in the spring. Crop insurance is an effective risk management tool, but is not designed to make farmers whole in the event of loss or damage to their crops. Just like with auto insurance, all policies have a deductible.

About 95% of those insured acres are under the Revenue Protection policy. The most comprehensive revenue protection policy has a 15% deductible that can easily amount to more than $100 per acre for corn and $55 per acre for soybean.

For a farmer planting 400 acres of corn and 200 acres of soybean affected by the storm, it means about $55,000 dollars in deductible that will not be available to pay for groceries, fuel, medical bills, principal and interest from existing loans, or inputs for the 2021 season. In many cases, since profit margins are currently so thin, even an 85% coverage level will not suffice to cover all production costs, particularly if the land is cash rented.

Finally, unless the AIP releases all acres in a unit, indemnity payments from crop insurance will not arrive until all crops are harvested and production records are submitted, late in the year. This will put additional strain on the working capital of Iowa farms, 28% of which started the season with vulnerable liquidity levels.

Additional Information

Disclaimer

The information provided is for reference purposes only and does not change the terms of the crop insurance policy. Talk to your crop insurance agent about specific questions related to your crop insurance coverage.

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Crop insurance coverage-frequently asked questions

Iowa map with images of farm management field specialists and their areas
ISU Extension and Outreach Farm Management Specialists provide expertise regarding crop insurance and adverse events.

Losses due to adverse weather conditions such as hail, frost, freeze, wind, drought, and excess moisture are insurable losses under multiple peril crop insurance.

In 2020, some Iowa farmers, especially in Western Iowa, are suffering the extremes of drought. Losses due to drought are an insurable loss under multiple peril crop insurance. Due to drought conditions, crop insurance claims are expected to be large for losses resulting from both corn and soybean yield declines in addition to a drop in the harvest prices used to calculate indemnity payments.

Another dynamic added to the mix is yield loss due to chemical drift, which is not a covered loss under multiple peril crop insurance.

Question: How many of Iowa’s corn and soybean acres are covered by crop insurance?

Iowa farmers planted 23.4 million acres of corn and soybeans in 2020. Approximately 90% of those acres have been insured using Revenue Protection (RP) multiple peril crop insurance. These insurance policies can guarantee various levels of a percentage of the farm’s average yield times the higher of the projected price (average futures price in the month of February) or the harvest price (average futures price during the month of October), using the November 2020 futures contract for soybeans and the December 2020 futures contract for corn. Most farm operators carry a guarantee of their APH from 65% to 85% level of coverage. The projected prices (futures average prices in February 2020) were $3.88/bu for corn and $9.17/bu for soybeans, respectively.

Hail damaged Iowa field
Hail damaged field, photo courtesy of Duane Johnson

Question: What should an insured farmer do once a crop loss is recognized?

  1. Notify the insurance agent within 72 hours of the discovery of damage, but not later than 15 days after the end of the insurance period. A notice of loss can be made by phone, in writing or in person. Although drought loss is not immediate, farmers should contact their agent as soon as they feel a loss is present.
  2. Continue to care for the crop using good farming practices and protect it from further damage, if possible.
  3. Get permission from the insurance company, also referred to as your Approved Insurance Provider (AIP), before destroying or putting any crop to an alternative use.

Question: Who will appraise the crops and assess the loss?

The crop insurance company will assign a crop insurance adjuster to appraise the crop and assess the loss. The insured farmer must maintain the crop until the appraisal is complete. If the company cannot make an accurate appraisal, or the farmer disagrees with the appraisal, the company can have the farmer leave representative sample areas.
These representative sample areas of the crop are to be maintained – including normal spraying if economically justified – until the company conducts a final inspection. Failure to maintain the representative sample areas could result in a determination that the cause of loss is not covered. Therefore, no claims payment to the producer.

Once appraised the crop can be released by the company to be:

  1. Destroyed – through tillage, shredding, or chemical means; or
  2. Used as silage or feed.

Question: Once released, may I harvest my corn as silage for feed?

Check with your crop insurance company. In a county where corn can be insured as grain only, the corn will be released, or harvested as silage or sold as feed. Any grain will be counted as production for your claim. In a county where corn can be insured as silage, the harvested silage will be counted as production.

Question: What is the difference among insurance units?

Many farmers have chosen to insure their crops using enterprise units in order to pay less expensive insurance premiums. Under enterprise units, losses are calculated by crop by county. Therefore all the corn planted by a farmer in a given county would be added together to determine a loss. If a farmer has chosen optional units, then losses are calculated by crop by field unit. Premiums are typically higher if choosing optional units but a good yield on one field does not cancel out the loss on another field.

Question: When will farmers be receiving indemnity payments for their crop insurance losses?

Adjusters will be busy with the increase in losses in areas that have been impacted. As soon as you are finished harvesting notify your insurance agent and an adjuster will be assigned to you. Insurance companies cannot defer payments to the next tax year, but claims adjusted late in the year may not be paid out until the following year.

Question: What is the maximum price that the harvest time indemnity price (average October futures price) can reach?

The maximum harvest indemnity price values for 2020 are twice of the projected price; or $7.76/bushel for corn and $18.34/bushel for soybeans, respectively.

Question: Can indemnity payments be deferred for income tax purposes until 2021?

A taxpayer using the cash method of accounting claims the income in the year they receive the payment. The insurance company will send the insured a 1099 showing the amount and tax year to report the income.

A farmer, if they are using the cash method of accounting for reporting taxes, can elect to defer crop insurance payments if the loss is due to yield loss and they normally sell more than 50% of their crop the year following harvest. They cannot defer any loss that is due to price loss. Farmers that are using the accrual method of accounting for reporting taxes cannot defer crop insurance payments.

Question: Will I be asked to provide proof of my bushels this year for crop insurance verification?

All multiple peril crop insurance users are subject to production verification on a random basis. If a claim that exceeds $200,000 is filed for an individual crop and policy, verification of production is automatically required by regulation. This also requires a 3-year audit.

Additional Resources

FAQ from USDA RMA regarding the August 10, 2020 Derecho

AgDM Crop Insurance Publications

ISU Extension and Outreach Crops Team
Storm Damage Resources
Drought Resources

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How to streamline your CFAP application

Alejandro Plastina

Contributed by Alejandro Plastina, Extension Economist, Assistant Professor, plastina@iastate.edu

If you are a farmer or rancher who faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19, you have until August 28, 2020 to file for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) with your local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.

The CFAP application form AD-3114 is available online for producers who prefer to fill it out manually. However, according to the Paperwork Reduction Act, filling out the AD-3114 form is estimated to take one hour per response. In order to streamline the CFAP application in times of social distancing and phased reopening of businesses, the USDA has published a CFAP Payment Calculator that serves multiple purposes:

  • helps producers organize the information needed to apply for CFAP;
  • informs producers of the initial payment and the potential for subsequent payments;
  • automatically populates a printable version of the AD-3114 form; and
  • saves in-person or on-the-phone consultations with FSA staff.

This article provides a step-by-step guide to using USDA’s CFAP Payment Calculator. You will need a computer with internet access and spreadsheet software. In order to print the completed AD-3114 form, you will also need a printer connected to the computer.

Follow these steps to calculate your CFAP payment and print the AD-3114 form:

  1. Download the CFAP Calculator and save it to your computer.
  2. Open the Calculator from the saved location. A message highlighted in yellow might appear at the top of the spreadsheet asking your permission to “Enable Editing.” Press the gray button with the legend “Enable Editing” to operate the spreadsheet.
Excel bar for "enable editing"

  1. If a message highlighted in red appears at the top of your screen indicating “Blocked Content”, then proceed as described in Step 4. If no such message appears, go to Step 5.
Excel bar for "Macros warning"
  1. Close the file in the spreadsheet software. To allow your computer to run the program embedded in the Calculator (called “Macros”), use the Windows File Explorer (PC computer) or Finder (Mac computer) to browse to the saved file in your computer, click the second mouse button on the file name to access its Properties, locate the “Unblock” option at the bottom, check the Unblock box, and press OK. Then open the file in the spreadsheet software and click on the “Enable Editing” button. The Calculator should be operational.
  2. The spreadsheet is organized into 5 tabs, but you will enter data only on the “Data Entry” tab, and only in the cells highlighted in light-yellow. You only need to fill out the sections relevant to your operation: Dairy, Non-Specialty Crops, Livestock, Aquaculture/Nursery, and Specialty Crops.
  3. Fill out the top section with State, County, Name, and Address.
  4. If you produced Dairy in 2020, fill out Part 1: enter the total pounds of production, including any dumped milk, in January, February, and March 2020. If you do not produce Dairy, leave Part 1 blank.
  5. If you produced corn, soybeans, oats, or other Non-Specialty Crops (including Wool) in 2019, fill out Part 2: in each row, select a crop from the drop-down menu; enter the 2019 total production across all your farms; and the 2019 total production not sold as of January 15, 2020. If your crop is not listed in the drop-down menu of Part 2, then see if it is listed in the drop-down menu of Part 5. If your crop is not listed in Parts 2 or 5, then it is not eligible for CFAP. If you did not produce Non-Specialty Crops in 2019, leave Part 2 blank.
  6. If you owned Livestock in 2020, fill out Part 3: in each row, select a livestock category; enter the total sales between January 15, 2020, and April 15, 2020 for owned inventory as of January 15, 2020, including any sales of offspring from owned inventory; and the highest inventory between April 16, 2020, and May 14, 2020. If you did not own livestock in 2020, leave Part 3 blank. 
  7. If you were an Aquaculture/Nursery farmer in 2020, fill out Part 4: in each row, enter the name of the commodity that suffered value loss; the total value of sales from all farms between January 15, 2020 and April 15, 2020; and the total value of marketable inventory from all farms as of April 15, 2020. Note that reported losses in Part 4 are not included in the Calculated Initial Payment reported by this Calculator.  USDA is continuing to review data associated with the impact of COVID-19 on value loss crops. Specific value loss crops that meet the eligibility criteria will be identified in the future. If you were not an aquaculture/nursery farmer in 2020, leave Part 4 blank.
  8. If you produced Specialty Crops in 2020, fill out Part 5: in each row, select a crop from the drop-down menu; enter the total value of production sold between January 15, 2020, and April 15, 2020; the total volume of production shipped but not sold between January 15, 2020 and April 15, 2020; and the total acres with production not shipped or sold between January 15, 2020 and April 15, 2020. If your crop is not listed in the drop-down menu of Part 5, then see if it is listed in the drop-down menu of Part 2. If your crop is not listed in Parts 2 or 5, then it is not eligible for CFAP. If you did not produce Specialty Crops in 2020, leave Part 5 blank.
  9. If the CFAP application is for a corporation, a limited liability company, or a limited partnership seeking an increase in the per-person payment limitation, fill out Part 6: enter the names of members/partners or stockholders who provide 400 hours or more of active personal labor or active personal management, or combination thereof, to the farming operation. If 2 or 3 members of the corporation, LLC, or LP are listed in Part 6, the payment limit will be increased from $250,000 to $500,000 or $750,000, respectively. If the application is not for a corporation, LLC, or LP, leave Part 6 blank.
  10. Revise for completeness and correct any mistakes. Check for typos, and make sure you are not leaving out any eligible commodity in the Data Entry tab.
  11. Check your Calculated Initial Payment by clicking on the orange button “GO TO ESTIMATED PAYMENT REPORT” in the top left part of the Data Entry tab. This action will take you to the tab called “ECPR”, and the Calculated Initial Payment amount will appear in the box at the top of the tab. The Calculated Initial Payment equals 80% of the Estimated Gross Payment before limitations and other reductions. For aquaculture/nursery farmers, the Calculated Initial Payment does not include value losses reported in Part 4 (see Step 10).
  12. Your Initial Payment will be the lesser of the Calculated Initial Payment or $200,000 per individual (equivalent to 80% of the $250,000 payment limit per individual). For corporations, limited liability companies, and limited partnerships, the limit is 80% of the payment limitation calculated in Step 12. You can print the calculations in the “ECPR” tab by clicking on the red button at the top of the tab called “PRINT ECPR.” Go back to the “Data Entry” tab by clicking on the blue button at the top called “GO TO DATA ENTRY”.
  13. Save the file for future reference: go to File menu in your spreadsheet software, and select the Save command.
  14. Print the AD-3114 form by clicking on the yellow button “PRINT AD-3114” in the top left part of the “Data Entry” tab. Depending on the number of eligible commodities you produced, some of your commodities might not show up in the printed AD-3114 form. In that case, click on the light-orange button “PRINT AD-3114 Continuation.” Revise the print out for accuracy, sign, and submit the CFAP application to your local FSA Office.

Any part of your Calculated Initial Payment (see Step 14) below 80% of your payment limit and above Your Initial Payment (see Step 15) might trigger subsequent payments at a later date.

Note that the present article was developed for USDA’s CFAP Payment Calculator Version 1, last accessed on May 29, 2020. The USDA might update the Calculator without prior notice and render some or all parts of this information outdated.

For more information on CFAP, visit https://www.farmers.gov/cfap.

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Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) enrollment

Contributed by Steve Johnson, Extension Farm Management Field Specialist, sdjohns@iastate.edu

Steve Johnson, headshot

The USDA announced the producer signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) allocated by Congress through the CARES Act that will begin on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. That enrollment will be through your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office with additional CFAP details and the enrollment process at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap.

The $16 billion available for CFAP includes direct relief for farmers, with $9.6 billion for the livestock industry ($5.1 billion for cattle, $2.9 billion for dairy, and $1.6 billion for hogs). It has $3.9 billion for row crop producers, $2.1 billion for specialty crop producers, and $500 million for other crops.

USDA officials are urging farmers to begin the paperwork process using an online calculator available once sign-up begins. These payments will be coupled with actual production and based on losses due to price declines and supply chain disruptions from COVID-19. To qualify for a payment, a commodity must have declined in price by at least 5% between January and April 2020.

Producers will be paid based on inventory subject to price risk held as of Jan. 15, 2020. A single payment will be made based on 50% of a producer’s 2019 total production or the 2019 inventory still not sold as of Jan. 15, 2020, whichever is smaller. This amount for each crop will be multiplied by 50% and then multiplied by the commodity’s applicable payment rates featured below:

CFAP Payment Rates by Commodity

CommodityUnit of MeasureCARES Act Payment RateCCC Payment Rate
Cornbushel$0.32$0.35
Soybeansbushel$0.45$0.50
See all non-specialty crop rates.

Producers must provide the following information as a part of their CFAP application:

  • Total 2019 production for the commodity that suffered a 5% or more price decline, and
  • Total 2019 production that wasn’t sold as of Jan. 15, 2020.

This video demonstrates how the new CFAP application form can be downloaded, completed, signed, dated, and then mailed or e-mailed to your local FSA office.

Producers should make an extra copy of this completed CFAP application form for their records. Attach any proof of how you determined the 2019 total production by crop and the 2019 production that was “not sold” as of Jan. 15, 2020.

The CFAP program will be open to all producers, regardless of commodity or size. Some farmers may not have traditionally worked regularly with FSA. Once signup begins, some producers may want to contact their local FSA office to schedule an appointment. In that case, FSA staff will help those producers complete portions of form CCC-902 Farm Operating Plan. Other forms will also be needed to apply for CFAP, although if you’ve dealt with FSA before, it’s likely they already have these on file.

These forms include:

  • CCC-901—Identifies members of a farm that is a legal entity. Member information will be completed by legal entities and joint organizations to collect member names, addresses, tax ID numbers, and citizenship status.
  • CCC-941—Reports your average adjusted gross income for programs where income restrictions apply.
  • CCC-942—This certification reports income from farming, ranching, and forestry for those exceeding the adjusted gross income limitation.
  • AD-1026—Ensures compliance with highly erodible land conservation and wetland conservation.
  • AD-2047—Provides basic customer contact information.
  • SF-3881—Collects your banking information to allow USDA to make payments to you via direct deposit.

More information will be available on the Ag Decision Maker blog as details on CFAP are released.

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Plan how best to work with your local FSA office

Contributed by Steve Johnson, Extension Farm Management Field Specialist, sdjohns@iastate.edu

Steve Johnson, headshot

The ongoing COVID-19 situation has changed the way your local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office is conducting business with producers this spring. Local FSA offices are currently using alternative methods to provide service and ensure compliance with FSA provisions. Appointments can be made by phone, mail, or e-mail – rather than face-to-face interactions. Once producers have completed planting their 2020 spring crops, they should contact the local FSA office to obtain their certification maps to complete the annual acreage certification process.

The following is a 4-step process provided by a county FSA office in Iowa to their producers for completing their 2020 acreage report:

  1. Your local FSA office can provide farm/tract maps upon your request. They can provide them through the mail or e-mail. Once received, write in a legible pen what crop is planted in each field, including hay ground, grassed waterways, terraces, CRP, etc. and the approximate acreage amounts in those areas. 
  2. Next enter the planting date for each field below the crop type.
  3. If the producer shares the crop with another producer(s); list each individual/entity and their respective share of the crop. The total of listed shares must equal 100%.
  4. If the producer is unable to legibly write the crop, planting date, acres and producer shares (if necessary); then provide a sheet of paper along with the map that lists the field number, the crop, date planted, acres and shares.

Once you have all the acreage on your tract maps accounted for, contact your local FSA office to schedule a phone appointment to go through your maps. This can be handled in one of two ways:

Option 1) You may return your completed maps to the county office for loading into the crop certification software via mail, e-mail, fax, or the drop box located outside your local FSA office.

Option 2) FSA staff can contact you and go through your maps over the phone together. This includes FSA updating your crops/dates/acres/shares and entering them into the crop certification software and allowing you to provide any other pertinent information.

In either case, you will subsequently receive the printed acreage form for your signature in the mail or via e-mail. Indicate to FSA your preference when contacted. Then return your signed FSA Form 578 via mail, e-mail, fax or drop box located at your local FSA office. The deadline is July 15, 2020 for filing this form .

Producers should plan to keep good records at planting each year and file a timely FSA Form 578. Annually these records include the date, the crop and acres planted, and producer shares along with the reference to the farm number. Do not forget you will need to include hay ground, grassed waterways, terraces, CRP, etc.

Filing an accurate and timely acreage report for all crops and land is important. This report is an essential part of determining your eligibility for critical programs, including crop insurance, price support, disaster relief and conservation programs.

Remember, both the FSA office and your crop insurance agent will need accurate planting information and your signature when you complete the acreage certification FSA Form 578. The planted acres on this form are verification for your crop insurance agent in determining your 2020 crop insurance coverage, and thus your final premium to be paid this fall.

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