Program expansion in Pennsylvania means drought protection for farmers

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SALEM, Ohio — Pennsylvania farmers have one more tool in their box to protect their pastures and forage in a risk management program.

The Pasture, Rangeland, Forage Insurance Program helps protects producers against a lack of rain, and the pilot program is now available for eligible Pennsylvania farmers in all 67 counties.

Expansion

Previously, the Pasture, Rangeland, Forage (PRF) Insurance Program was available only as a pilot program in 26 of the state’s counties for the 2010 crop year.

Mark D. Pezzuolo of the Pezzuolo Insurance Agency, of Bessemer, Pa., insures both western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. He said the program is growing in popularity as more producers are making changes in their operations to more grazing.

Pezzuolo said there are two ways to insure a farmer’s hay crop:

• The original option required detailed, and time-consuming record keeping.

• The new PRF program pays out depending on the amount of rainfall. The policy is based on two-month intervals. A producers picks two (two-month) intervals and is insured for those four months. Then, the rainfall is measured at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rain gauge. If the rainfall does not equal what the average is, then the producer is paid.

Protection

Producers in the PRF program who suffer a loss can receive up to $500 of protection per acre for hay acreage. Policies are also available for apiculture.

The enrollment deadline for the expanded statewide program is Sept. 30, 2010, for protection in 2011.

Pezzuolo said claims have been made and have been paid under the three-year-old program.

“This program is great because it protects the hay and insures the grazing pasture,” he added.

Pennsylvania is one of only 16 states in which the USDA offers the program to producers.

Redding said introducing the PRF program statewide now allows producers who have existing risk management policies for dairy and other crops to benefit from additional protection for forage crops.

Pezzuolo said it is easy for producers to get started in the program. The first step is to schedule an appointment with a crop insurance agent and get signed up before the Sept. 30 deadline. Then, it is a matter of deciding how much coverage is warranted on the pasture and hay crop, and then reporting the acreage.

Other states that are also involved in the program include: Colorado, Idaho, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Alabama, Wyoming and southern New York.

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