How to manage risk for non-insurable crops

cabbage field

Hello again,

In the evenings, I flip through the pages of my favorite seed catalogs and see 143 varieties of lettuce available. There are images of leafy bunches of bright green and deep glowing burgundy.

The variety Magenta looks painted in watercolor while Flashy Troutback is speckled like scales.

Their names describe unusual leaf shapes like Deer Tongue or Red Oakleaf. Bouquets of Romaine varieties look so lush and beautiful, they seem just as fitting for the hands of a bride as they do the salad bowl.

When the darkness of winter sets in, paging through the brightness of a glossy seed catalog improves my mood. The biodiversity represented in these seed catalogs is uplifting, and it is also invaluable.

As you read the seed catalog variety descriptions, you find there is a type of lettuce for every region, every season; there are heat and cold tolerant varieties, disease resistant, varieties for summer harvest or fall.


This genetic diversity, found in our seed banks and the depth of our vegetable varieties is a resource for resiliency.

Where one crop fails, another may be better adapted for survival.

Resiliency, the ability to recover quickly from difficulties, is a critical characteristic of successful farms today. Agriculture is an inherently risky business. It requires an incredible spirit of grit, propelling one forward from each setback.

Weather has always been one of the primary risks that agricultural producers must manage, and today, extreme weather is a common challenge for farmers across the country.

Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program

Thankfully, there are many resources that farmers can draw on to ensure their ability to recover from natural disasters and manage risk.

Crop insurance is one of these resources, but generally, specialty crops are not covered by traditional agricultural insurance policies. For fruit and vegetable growers, the Farm Service Agency’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program can be an important risk- management tool.

This program provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops to protect against natural disasters that result in crop losses.

Eligible crops must be commercially produced agricultural commodities for which crop insurance is not available. Eligible causes of loss include natural disasters including drought, freeze, hail, excessive moisture, excessive heat, and adverse natural occurrences such as floods.

The program offers various coverage levels, including a basic catastrophic level. Beginning, limited resource and targeted underserved farmers or ranchers are eligible for a waiver of the service fee and premium discounts.

In these winter months, as you flip through your seed catalogs and plan what varieties you will plant this year, take time to also review your farm’s risk management plan.

Learn more about USDA’s tools for managing weather’s extreme risks and ensuring the resilience of your production systems, and consider how this program might fit into a risk management plan for your operation.

Your Farm Service Agency office can give you more information or you can read more at

That’s all for now,

FSA Andy


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