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Program Announcement

John Shea (202) 690-0437

FARMERS URGED TO DISCUSS ASIAN SOYBEAN RUST CONCERNS WITH THEIR LOCAL AG EXTENSION EXPERTS AND CROP INSURANCE AGENT

Washington, Mar 24, 2005 - USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) today encouraged insured producers concerned about the impact of Asian soybean rust to use good farming practices by seeking and following recommendations of agricultural experts to control soybean rust. Further, RMA recommends the insured producer document the advice received and actions taken to combat this disease.

“We encourage all producers to talk to their crop insurance agent to understand and comply with the terms of their crop insurance policy to ensure they will be adequately prepared to meet the challenges presented by this disease,” said RMA Administrator Ross J. Davidson, Jr. “While the disease is an insured peril under the Federal crop insurance program, damage due to the insufficient or improper application of available disease control measures is not.”

Under the terms of the Common Crop Insurance Policy, a practice is considered a good farming practice if agricultural experts agree that the production method used will allow the crop to make normal progress toward maturity and produce at least the yield used to determine the production guarantee.

Failure to purchase and apply adequate control measures due to economic reasons is not an insurable cause of loss. Producers must be knowledgeable of any pending outbreaks and the control methods recommended by local agricultural experts, such as extension agents and certified crop consultants, used in their area to combat the disease.

Appropriate treatment may vary from timing of application (pre- or post-discovery of the disease), frequency, and choice of chemical or other determining factors. If crops become infected, RMA recommends that insured producers document the date of discovery of the disease, any recommendations received from agricultural experts, and actions taken regarding the application of appropriate control measures.

It is the approved insurance providers’ responsibility to verify that losses are unavoidable due to naturally occurring events. That includes verifying producers followed good farming practices or that chemicals or application equipment were not available or natural events (for example, excessive moisture) precluded access to the crop to timely apply the recommended treatments.

As with all crop insurance policies and plans of insurance, farmers must use good farming practices. This insures that in the event of any naturally occurring disease outbreaks, such as soybean rust, producers will be eligible for an indemnity based on the full amount of the loss. If good farming practices are not followed, production attributed to the failure to follow good farming practices is assessed, resulting in a reduction in the indemnity.

Insured producers should follow developments as to the identification and spread of Asian soybean rust disease and continue to stay informed and updated concerning appropriate treatments that may apply to their situation. Producers can find the latest information on the spread of Asian soybean rust from local experts and from USDA’s website at http://www.usda.gov.

Information about Asian soybean rust control measures may be obtained from local chemical dealers, crop consultants, and plant pathologists in agriculture departments of State governments, universities, and USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service who are familiar with the risks of exposure to this disease.

For more information regarding good farming practices and crop insurance protection against Asian soybean rust, please see the crop policies area on the RMA website at http://www.rma.usda.gov.



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