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John Shea, 202-690-0437

PROTECTING FARMERS ALONG THE MISSOURI RIVER

WASHINGTON, Feb 18, 2006 - USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) addresses the impact of Missouri River spring water releases by the US Corps of Engineers.

Background

To comply with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has scheduled two spring "pulses" or water releases from the Gavin's Point Dam in an effort to mimic the natural river rise and encourage spawning of the endangered pallid sturgeon.

Crop insurance payments are made on production losses that are due to acts of nature, such as weather events including drought, hurricane, freeze, disease, and excess moisture. The release of water by USACE is due to the requirements of Federal law and not an act of nature. Therefore, in the unlikely situation that there are any losses clearly attributable to such releases, those losses cannot be covered under Federal crop insurance policies. However, any losses attributable to natural occurrences such as adverse weather will be covered.

To determine, and where possible minimize, the risks to producers due to these releases, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and USACE have been in close consultation.

Insurance Protection

Irrespective of these releases by USACE, any crops insured with a Federal crop insurance policy that suffer losses attributable to natural causes will be covered in accordance with the terms of the policy. Further, USACE has given USDA assurances as to its flexibility to administer these releases with a strong consideration of flooding potential. Given USACE's confidence that flooding is not expected to occur as a result of the releases, USDA does not anticipate that there will be any losses attributable solely to the releases.

Another important point to consider is that there has been at least one occasion in which USACE was required to release water into the Missouri River system due to excess moisture and the need to mitigate the effects of such excess moisture. In such instances in which USACE releases were due to a covered cause of loss, any crop damage caused by the release was covered under the Federal crop insurance program.

Minimizing Risk

USACE has routinely released water from reservoirs into the Missouri River system to meet its various mandates without affecting crop insurance coverage. USACE has informed USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) that it will apply controls with respect to these releases to prevent flooding of cropland. Based on these controls and USACE's analysis of the current conditions in the Missouri River system, neither RMA nor USACE anticipates that these releases alone will cause damage to crops or cropland along the Missouri River system.

For More Information

For additional information, please contact Mr. Heyward Baker, Risk Management Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, D.C. 20250 (telephone: 202-720-4286).