Crop Revenue Insurance Proceeds – Price Loss versus Yield Loss

Contributed by Charles BrownFarm Management Specialist, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, crbrown@iastate.edu, 641-673-5841

With the drought and floods in 2018, there has been some discussion on the income tax treatment of crop insurance proceeds. Some people may have sold the 2017 crop in 2018 and are concerned about the doubling of income if they also received their crop insurance payments in 2018 as well. It is possible to defer the crop insurance to the year following harvest, but certain criteria have to be met.

A cash method farmer may elect to postpone reporting insurance proceeds on damaged crops from the year of damage to the following year if 50% or more of the crop is normally sold the year following production. This is determined on a crop-by-crop basis. This is done by making the election IRC Sec. 451(d); Reg. 1.451-6 on the tax return for the year of loss. A statement must be attached to the tax return and include the following:

  1. This election is made under IRC Sec. 451 (d) and Reg. 1.451-6.
  2. Identification of the specific crop or crops destroyed or damaged.
  3. A statement that under normal conditions the crop would have been sold the following year.
  4. Identification of the cause of destruction or damage and the dates it occurred.
  5. The amount of payment received and the date each payment was received for each crop.
  6. The name of the insurance carrier or payer from whom the amounts were received.

If you defer insurance for one crop you must do it for all crops that insurance money was received for. This would include any disaster money received from USDA. Crop revenue insurance guarantees a certain level of income based on yield and price. Sec. 451(d) allows the deferral of crop insurance proceeds “received as a result of destruction or damage to crops” or the inability to plant crops because of a natural disaster. IRS has previously ruled that insurance programs that provide payments without regard to actual losses fall outside the statutory definition of destruction of damage to crops. Therefore crop revenue insurance proceeds would not be eligible for deferral. However, if you can prove a portion of the insurance proceeds was the direct result of crop damage due to hail, flooding, drought or some other destruction, or some portion of the proceeds was the result of damage, then that portion of the insurance proceeds should be allowed for the deferral election. The portion of the proceeds that was related to price would have to be reported as income in the year received. This year, 2018, it is possible that the harvest price could be lower than the spring price and a portion of the insurance proceeds will be because of price loss. Please contact your tax professional for consultation on specific questions for your farm.

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Crop Insurance Coverage Frequently Asked Questions in Times of Drought or Floods

Contributed by Charles BrownFarm Management Specialist, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, crbrown@iastate.edu, 641-673-5841

In 2018, again some Iowa farmers are suffering the extremes of drought in the Southeast and floods in the North and Northeast. Both losses due to drought and flooding are an insurable loss under multi-peril crop insurance. Another dynamic added to the mix this year is yield loss due to chemical drift or misapplication, which is not a covered loss under multi-peril crop insurance. Especially in Southeast Iowa, due to drought conditions, again there will be claims for losses on corn and soybeans.

Important Point: Do not destroy a crop, comingle grain from previous years or different owners or harvest for silage before contacting your insurance agent. Bins must be measured before comingling grain. When in doubt call your agent.

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

Iowa farmers planted 23.2 million acres of corn and soybeans in 2018. Approximately 90% of those acres have been insured using Revenue Protection (RP) multi-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 2018 futures contract for soybeans and the December 2018 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 2018) were $3.96/bu for corn and $10.16/bu for soybeans, respectively.

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 and/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 is 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 Southeast Iowa. 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 2018 are twice of the projected price; or $7.92/bu for corn and $20.32/bu for soybeans, respectively.

Question: Can indemnity payments for drought be deferred for income tax purposes until 2019?

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.

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Heavy rains have saturated fields, forcing producers to make tough decisions

Contributed by Steve JohnsonFarm Management Specialist, Iowa State University Extension, sdjohns@iastate.edu, 515-957-5790

Farmers should have kept accurate records of planting dates this spring. Write down the dates you planted that crop, number of acres and reference the farm name or number. “Good planting records are key for crop insurance coverage purposes and for completing the annual USDA’s Farm Service Agency acreage report prior to July 15,” notes Johnson.

Q: What should a producer do if his/her planted crops are affected by flooding, wind or hail?

A: Notify your crop insurance agent or insurance carrier within 72 hours of the loss. The agent’s company will assign a crop insurance adjuster that will work directly with the insured.

Q: Can I destroy the damaged crop and prepare to replant.

A: It is important not to destroy a field with crop damage until an adjuster has approved/released the field for other cropping or potential tillage practices. Listen carefully and document the adjuster’s recommendations. Work with your crop insurance agent regarding potential indemnity payments and continue “good farming practices” as required to maintain crop insurance coverage.

flooded fieldQ: What if the field remains underwater for an extended period of time?

A: If your field is under water for an extended period of time let your agent know.  The agent can help file a notice of damage and have the insurance company take a closer look.

Q: Isn’t there a 20-20 rule for crop insurance coverage?

A: Yes, to qualify for an indemnity payment under the replanted, delayed or prevented planting provisions, a minimum area of 20 acres or 20% of the insured unit, whichever is smaller, must be affected.

A unit could be a field or a farm – if you elected an optional whole farm or basic unit. An enterprise unit could also have been elected, which reflects all the corn acres or all the soybean acres grouped together in a particular county.

Q: I chose enterprise units to save on premium. Can I now change to basic or optional units because flooding has damaged my planted crop acreage on a few fields?

A: Because unit structure impacts the premium cost, and in the case of enterprise units, also the premium subsidy, the policyholder’s decision to elect enterprise units is made no later than the sales closing date to reflect the binding contractual agreement between the two parties on or before March 15, 2018.

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Prevented Planting FAQ for 2018

Steve Johnson photoWright, GaryReviewed by Gary Wright, Extension Farm Management Field Specialist, gdwright@iastate.edu

Originally Contributed by Steve Johnson, Extension Farm Management Field Specialist

Question: When is prevented planting available?

Answer: Prevented planting must be due to an insured cause of loss that is general in the surrounding area and that prevents other producers from planting acreage with similar characteristics. Failure to plant when other producers in the area were planting will result in denial of the prevented planting claim.

There’s also the 20/20 Rule–a minimum of 20 acres or 20% of the unit must be affected. Total acres of planted and prevented planted cannot exceed the total cropland acres. Prevented planting claims must be filed with your crop insurance agent by June 28 for corn and July 13 for soybeans. Prevented planting acres must be reported on the FSA Form 578 acreage report. That deadline in Iowa is July 15, 2018.

Question: When is prevented planting not available?

Answer: On ground that is insured through a New Breaking Written Agreement; Conservation Program Reserve land—first year out of CRP; on ground where a pasture or forage crop is in place during the time of planting; when other producers in the area are able to plant; on county-based crop insurance area policies—such as AYP & ARPI.

Question: How much do I get paid for prevented planting?

Answer: 55% of the initial revenue guarantee on corn and 60% on soybeans.

  • For corn, an example of how it’s figured: 190 bushels APH x 80% x $3.96/bu = $602 initial revenue guarantee  x 55% = $331/acre PP payment
  • For soybeans, an example is 55 bushels APH x 80% x $10.16/bu = $447 initial revenue guarantee x 60% = $268/acre PP payment
  • Note that payments for prevented planting use the projected price (new crop futures price average in February).

Question: How are eligible acres for prevented planting determined?

Answer: The insurance company considers each of the insured’s crops in each county. They look at the maximum number of acres reported for insurance and certified in any of the four most recent crop years. The acres must have been planted in one of the last three crop years.

What happens if you are prevented from planting and there are not enough eligible acres for the crop being claimed? When the insured runs out of acreage eligibility for one crop, the remaining prevented planting acres will be “rolled” to another crop, such as corn to soybeans.

Question: What happens to my APH—actual production history– if I take prevented planting?

Answer: The insured farmer who receives prevented planting on a crop does not have to report the actual yield for the year. Generally, prevented planting will not impact the APH yield in future years, unless a second crop is planted on prevented planting acres.

Question: What happens if the first crop is prevented planting, but the second crop is planted?

Answer: If the second crop is planted it MUST be insured if there was insurance for that crop elected on or before March 15, 2018. The second crop must have been planted AFTER June 25 for corn and July 10 for soybeans. If the insured farmer plants a second crop they will still receive 35% of the indemnity for the prevented planting crop and pay only 35% of the premium.

Planting a second crop on prevented planting ground affects the following year’s APH:

  • 1st Crop – you get 60% of the approved yield (190 bu/A APH X 60% = 114 bu/A)
  • 2nd Crop – actual yields are used for APH

Question: What will crop insurance adjusters need to do for prevented planting claims?

Answer: Visually inspect all prevented planting acres to determine:

  • Acres are within 5% of what was on the acreage report
  • Whether the acres are left idle, or whether a cover crop or second crop has been planted
  • What the cause of loss was, and if it is general in the area
  • Determine eligible acres
  • Roll acres to other crops if insured is short of eligible acres for reported prevented planting crop

Question: What are the deadlines for filing prevented planting in Iowa?

Answer: These dates vary by state, but tend to be 3 days after the last day of the late planting period.

  • The deadline for filing prevented planting with your crop insurance agent is June 28 for corn and July 13 for soybeans
  • Acreage reporting deadline is July 16th. (This date is usually July 15th but this year the date falls on a Sunday)
  • Prevented planting acres listed on your acreage report (FSA Form 578) should match the information provided your crop insurance agent in order to qualify for a full indemnity payment
  • Work with your crop insurance agent well in advance of these dates regarding a prevented planting claim and whether a cover crop or a 2nd crop will be planted.

Question: To qualify for enterprise units on my crop insurance policy, I have to have at least the smaller of 20 acres or 20% of my planted acres in two or more different township sections.  If I have to leave some of my acres unplanted (prevented planting), will they still count toward my eligibility for enterprise units?

Answer: Only planted acres are considered when determining eligibility for enterprise units.  For example, a farm with 200 acres each in two sections would normally qualify for enterprise units. However, if fewer than 20 acres are planted in one of the sections, the farm would no longer qualify.  Possible increases in crop insurance premiums due to a change in unit designation should be considered when deciding whether or not to file for a prevented planting claim on some acres.

Question: If I take prevented planting on some of my fields and plant a cover crop, when can I harvest or graze the cover crop?

Answer: If you plant any kind of cover crop and expect to receive a crop insurance indemnity payment for prevented planting, you cannot harvest or graze those acres until after November 1.

ISU Extension Resources

More details can be found in the publication “Delayed and Prevented Planting Provisions” on the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Ag Decision Maker website. An electronic decision spreadsheet is also available to help analyze alternative actions. Producers should communicate with their crop insurance agent before making decisions about replanting or abandoning acres.

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Despite Weather Issues, Yield Estimates Better Than Expected (8/10/17)

Chad Hart, ISU Extension Grain Marketing Economist, provides a summary of the latest USDA reports.

Chad Hart imageThe first official tour of the nation’s fields this summer resulted in better crop yield and production estimates than the market was expecting. The national corn yield estimate came in at 169.5 bushels per acre, down 1.2 bushels from trend, but that was still a couple of bushels above trade expectations. If realized that points to a 14.15 billion bushel corn crop, which would be the 3rd largest ever, continuing a string of large corn crops. The soybean yield estimate was 49.4 bushels per acre. That is 1.4 bushels above trend and sets up this year’s crop to exceed last year’s. So bushels and bins would continue to overflow with these estimates.

On the demand side, news was mixed. Soybean export projections were raised 75 million bushels, but domestic soybean crush was lowered by 10 million. Corn feed usage and exports were reduced by 25 million bushels each. Combined, the corn adjustments shrank 2017/18 ending stock projections by 52 million, but stocks are still projected above 2.25 billion bushels. For soybeans, ending stock projections rose by 15 million bushels, to 475 million. For prices, USDA held their price range for corn, leaving the midpoint at $3.30 per bushel. While for soybeans, the price range tightened a bit, losing a bit more than the high end than the low, with the midpoint now at $9.30 per bushel.

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Pricing drought damaged silage

Contributed by William Edwards, extension economist

Corn that has suffered severe drought damage is sometimes harvested as silage instead of as grain. It can still have significant feed value if harvested at the right stage. See the article “Alternatives for Drought-damaged Corn—Grain Crop or Forage” for harvesting recommendations. Any damaged acres that are covered by crop insurance should be viewed by an adjuster and released by the insurance company before harvesting takes place.

Grain producers may be willing to sell to the corn standing in the field, to be harvested by the livestock producer or a custom operator. The buyer and the seller must agree on a selling price.  The seller would need to receive a price that would give at least as good a return as could be received from harvesting the corn as grain. The buyer would need to pay a price that would not exceed the feeding value of the corn.  Within that range the price can be negotiated.

One ton of normal, mature standing corn silage at 60% to 70% moisture can be valued at about 10 times the price of a bushel of corn. For a $3.50 corn price, a ton of silage would be worth about $35 per ton. However, drought stressed corn may have only 5 bushels of grain per ton of silage instead of the normal 6 to 7 bushels. A value of about 9 times the price of corn would more appropriate. For silage with little grain content, a factor of 8 times the price of corn can be used.

If the crop is sold after being harvested and transported, those costs must be added to that value, typically $5 to $10 per ton, depending on whether it is done by a custom operator or the buyer, and the distance it is hauled. A buyer would only consider the variable costs for harvesting and hauling, whereas a custom operator would need to recover fixed costs, as well.

More information on valuing forage in the field, including an electronic spreadsheet for estimating a value for corn silage, for both the buyer and the seller, is available from Ag Decision Maker.

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Videos provide financial tips, explain mediation

Chad Hart, ISU Extension Grain Marketing Economist, highlights new Iowa State University Extension and Outreach videos for today’s current farm financial situation.

With commodity prices low and projected to stay that way over the next couple years, farmers have begun to feel the pinch in their pocketbooks. This has made managing the finances of the farm that much more important. With this in mind, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has released two videos that deal with the current farm financial situation and what can be done to alleviate financial pressure.

I host the first video, titled Tips for Managing Margins. It offers ideas for how to weather the next few years of low crop prices like protecting capital, reviewing production costs and renegotiating loans.

The second video, called Understanding Farm Mediation, was created in partnership with Iowa Mediation Service and is about the process of mediation. Mediation is an option available to farmers as they work with their creditors to find a mutually beneficial solution to a delinquent secured agricultural debt of $20,000 or more.

This short video provides tips to help farmers better understand what mediation is and when it may be necessary. It describes the process and provides a step-by-step guide on how to prepare for mediation.

While mediation is available should it be needed, ISU Extension and Outreach also provides these financial resources to help farmers create a financial plan for their operation:

  • The Iowa Concern Hotline provides free legal information to both rural and urban Iowans. Services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 1-800-447-1985.
  • The Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation provides information about the application of developments in agricultural law and taxation.
  • Farm Financial Associates are available to provide a no-cost look at a farm’s complete financial situation.
  • The Beginning Farmer Center helps inform and support those who are getting started in farming. It also works with established farmers on succession planning for when they leave the industry.

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Consider Use of a Basis Contract to Market Corn

Steven D. Johnson, Ph.D., Farm Management Specialist, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, shared marketing tools and tips for the 2016 crop.

Johnson_Steve_smKeep an eye on your local basis to see if you should continue to store or price some of your corn. Farmers who have unpriced corn might consider using a basis contract to market at least a portion of those bushels. An attractive basis in late December and the need for cash will be the main drivers for farmers to move some of those stored bushels. Most of the cash price movement in late fall and early winter months typically comes from better basis being offered as farmers slow grain movement. In addition, two 3-day weekends in late December increase the odds of potential “quick ship” bids to meet processor demands for additional bushels.

Seasonal futures price trends indicate corn futures prices don’t typically rally in the fall and winter months. That’s because most everything is known about the Northern Hemisphere feed grain crops by then, and that’s where nearly 85% of the world production takes place. However, most farmers will be reluctant to give up ownership of bushels at sub-$3.50 per bushel cash corn prices.

Farmers need to pay attention to the costs of ownership

Chart of storage costs, on farm vs. commerical
Cost of 2016 Corn Ownership

Compare the cost of storing corn at a commercial elevator to your own on-farm storage costs. The ISU Extension and Outreach Iowa Commodity Challenge website can show you how. It uses the following 2016 crop assumptions: cash corn is valued at $3.11 per bushel at a central Iowa elevator when about 50% of the Iowa harvest was complete. Interest is accruing on stored grain at a rate of 5% or 1.75% if the USDA marketing loan is used. On-farm storage is 1 cent per bushel per month while commercial storage is 16 cents for the first 90 days and 2.8 cents per bushel for each month thereafter. Note the cash prices (dotted line) are below the typical cost of corn ownership as of late November.

Cost of 2016 Corn Ownership

Once you store corn, imagine how much cash prices will need to improve each month to justify storage. Commercial storage could easily be 3 to 4 times more expensive per bushel than on-farm storage costs. The cash price received for commercially stored bushels will also reflect the basis offered at that commercial storage facility. If history is any indication, the likelihood of selling those cash corn bushels above the cost of storage probably means a significant futures price rally is needed (more likely in the spring months)and improvement in the basis.

How does a basis contract actually work?

Most grain merchandisers offer a marketing tool called a basis contract. A farmer delivers cash corn and eliminates storage costs and basis risks. The merchandiser buys a corn futures contract (goes long) in a deferred month on behalf of the farmer. The merchandiser will likely charge a small service fee of 1 to 2 cents per bushel subtracted when the basis contract is settled, likely in the spring.

Upon delivery of the cash bushels, a farmer can collect 70% to 80% of the corn’s value. The merchandiser holds the remaining 20% to 30% balance of the cash value to make potential margin calls should futures prices decline. Any excess funds minus the 1- to 2-cent service fee are returned to the farmer upon settling the basis contract.

Eliminating storage costs and basis risk

The farmer needs to convey to the merchandiser a date and price at which the farmer wishes to have this long futures position lifted. Consider being “long” the May 2017 or July 2017 corn futures contracts when using a basis contract to increase the chance of benefiting from a spring futures price rally.

Discuss risks and rewards with your merchandiser when you’re initiating cash sales and basis contracts. Be sure you understand the risk of being “long” futures and the flow of cash funds involved in the transaction. The farmer isn’t able to take advantage of the carry offered in the futures markets with a basis contract. However, there are several advantages a basis contract provides. Those include providing cash to help pay expenses and meet your farm operation’s cash flow needs, elimination of storage costs and basis risk, and minimizing the concern for on-farm stored corn quality.

Take the Iowa Commodity Challenge and learn new marketing skills

The website featuring the Iowa Commodity Challenge has related crop marketing information including 14 videos and a 65-page Marketing Tools Workbook.

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Iowa Commodity Challenge Helps Improve Crop Marketing Skills

Steve Johnson, ISU extension field specialist, shares details on the Iowa Commodity Challenge, a program developed with Chad Hart, ISU extension economist and Ed Kordick, Iowa Farm Bureau, offers simulation using real world prices to help explore various marketing strategies.

Steve Johnson, ISU ExtensionThe Iowa Commodity Challenge is an educational series developed by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Farm Bureau that reflects real world crop markets so users can explore how various tools work – without putting their actual money on the table.

The materials, hosted on the Ag Decision Maker website, include 14 instructional videos explaining various aspects of marketing. Three new videos – Successful Market Planning, Using Crop Contracts and Working with Your Grain Merchandiser – have been recently added.

Also included is an updated 65-page Marketing Tools Workbook and a variety of learning activities. The workbook provides the basics on marketing tools as well as setting personal marketing goals and resources participants can use on their own farm operation.

Participants can choose to participate in an online grain market simulation game to help improve marketing skills. The game includes using futures and ag options as marketing tools, and participation can also help users improve strategies to sell cash corn and soybeans.

Iowa Commodity Challenge partners“It gives players a chance to look at commodity markets and how they work over the course of several months,” said Steve Johnson, farm management specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “The simulation reflects what is going on in the real world markets so participants are able to try out marketing strategies in a setting where they can explore how these various marketing tools work without risk.”

As a part of the online grain market simulation game; participants are given 75,000 bushels of corn and 25,000 bushels of soybeans stored commercially to market before spring using March 2017 corn and soybean futures. Storage costs will accrue on bushels as if they were in the bin (six cents per bushel per month).

Crop marketing is difficult and the stakes are high. Participating in the Iowa Commodity Challenge will provide greater understanding of marketing tools available and aid in making decisions in the noisy world of crop marketing.

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