Topeka Regional Office Prioritizes Teamwork, Customer Service
September 1, 2022
Recently, members of the Topeka Regional Office visited one of the thousands of organic operations that utilize crop insurance. Assumption Farms LLC is in Adams County, Nebraska. Ninety-seven percent of their fields are certified organic, and they use a practice called relay seeding, in which a second crop is planted into the first crop before harvest. Assumption Farms plants barley in the fall and soybeans in the spring on the same field.
“These visits are important because it gives us a chance to get to know the producer,” says Risk Management Specialist, Mitchell Stringer. “Being visible to them is important and we want to make sure future insurance policies are the best they can possibly be.”
Mitchell has been with RMA for just over a year and says he appreciates that everyone in his office cares about the quality of work they are doing.
“Every detail matters when reviewing or updating crop insurance,” he explains. “Looking at computer data doesn’t always tell the whole story of what is happening for producers in certain areas.”
Last year, the Topeka Regional Office had about 226,000 acres and about 1,300 policies for organic crops in their area of responsibility. Most policies with organics in Nebraska are Revenue Protection (RP), Yield Protection (YP), and Actual Production History (APH).
On their visit to Assumption Farms, Mitchell and other RMA employees spoke with owner, J.J. Granstorm, about his crop insurance policy.
“When growing organic crops one of our biggest issues is weed control. There isn’t much on the market to control weeds when your fields are organic,” J.J. explained. “The fall barley provides a canopy where it blocks the sunlight, which still allows the soybeans to grow but doesn’t allow weeds to emerge at the same time.”
Assumption Farms started to switch over to organic practices many years ago. For fertilizer, they use manure from local livestock producers and on the farm. They produce their own “compost tea” as J.J. calls it, by washing the nutrients from food waste, yard waste, grass, and sticks into a barrel and then spray it onto their crops. These are just some of the many resourceful practices the farm has implemented for organic crops every year.
While visiting the farm, the Topeka team toured the fields and found that both the soybeans and barley looked to be unharmed from the two plantings. The farm has specialty equipment used when harvesting the barley.
“We try to gather information about what is working and what is not currently working with their farm based on current insurance policies and regulations,” Mitchell says. “Overall, our visit with Assumption Farms was very insightful to learn and see a producer growing organic crops.”
I am grateful to Mitchell and the Topeka Regional Office for their skill, professionalism, teamwork, and interactions with farmers and ranchers in their area. As Mitchell explained, these engagements with producers inform our decision making and build important relationships with those we serve.– Marcia
Marcia Bunger is the Administrator of USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). Prior to her appointment, she served as a County Executive Director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency. A native South Dakotan, Bunger is also the owner and operator of a 2000-acre farm, a cum laude graduate of Augustana College, and the first member of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and first woman to serve as RMA Administrator.