COVID 19 Response
UPDATED September 2020
The Risk Management Agency (RMA) recognizes the challenges faced by the crop insurance industry and America’s farmers and ranchers. RMA will provide flexibility to support the health and safety of all parties, while also ensuring the Federal crop insurance program continues to serve as a vital risk management tool.
These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) will be updated on an ongoing basis as questions are presented to our Agency requesting clarification.
Can insurance providers provide electronic completion of forms to administer the Federal Crop Insurance Program?
Each insurance provider has an established plan in accordance with their Standard Reinsurance Agreement with the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. This plan includes their ability to electronically process forms to deliver the Federal Crop Insurance Program, including the use of electronic signatures for policyholders.
Policyholders should continue to work with their insurance providers and agents regarding the use of digital signatures and electronic form completion.
I’m a policyholder and I have questions. Who should I contact?
Policyholders should be in contact with their crop insurance agent and insurance provider.
If you do not have an agent or insurance provider, RMA’s website provides a tool to find an agent or insurance provider: www.rma.usda.gov/en/Information-Tools/Agent-Locator-Page.
RMA also has Regional Offices throughout the United States that are working with our local insurance providers and agents, including outreach to policyholders and grower organizations in their area. RMA’s Regional Offices are identified on the RMA website according to the states they serve.
Will Risk Management Agency staff be available to assist due to Shelter-In-Place, no travel restrictions and labor issues?
RMA staff will be available nationwide. The Department of Homeland Security recently issued advisory guidance related to critical infrastructure. Food and Agriculture, specifically workers essential for assistance programs and government payments, is listed as critical infrastructure.
Are the extensions in calendar or business days?All extensions to deadlines are on the same calendar or business day basis as their existing RMA procedure.
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) released Notice CP-757 to its State and County Offices for the 2020 crop year, which waives late file fees for an acreage report (FSA-578) when filed within 30 days of the acreage reporting date. What are the implications to the crop insurance program?RMA issued acreage reporting relief in its Manager’s Bulletin MGR-20-009. RMA has existing procedure within the General Standards Handbook, which authorizes AIPs to correct certain errors in information reported on the acreage report, or other forms that must be submitted by the acreage reporting date by the insured to ensure information is correct and consistent with any USDA program. RMA is extending the correction time period for an acreage report or other forms that must be submitted by the acreage reporting date an additional 30 days (consistent with the FSA acreage reporting 30-day late file fee waiver). The extension provides the AIP up to a total of 60 days to correct the error following the acreage reporting date.
Is RMA providing additional time for policyholders to pay their premium and administrative fees? Does this include deferring interest charges? Do these changes apply to livestock policies?
Yes, your insurance provider, at their discretion, can authorize additional time for you to pay premium and administrative fees for any of your policies that have a premium billing date between March 1, 2020, and September 30, 2020. These were released by RMA in Manager’s Bulletins 20-007, 20-015, and 20-021 and also apply to applicable livestock plans of insurance.
Interest accrual on these may also be waived until the earliest of 60 days past the scheduled payment due date or the policy’s termination date.
Please contact your crop insurance agent if you have questions.
Is RMA providing additional time for policyholders to make payments under their Written Payment Agreement? Does this include deferring interest charges?
Yes, your insurance provider can authorize additional time for you to make your payment for a Written Payment Agreement with a due date between March 1, 2020, and September 30, 2020.
The payment date may be extended up to 60 days from the scheduled payment due date and considered a timely payment. Your insurance provider may also waive any additional interest for the payment during this 60-day period.
Please contact your crop insurance agent if you have questions.
PROGRAM DATES: SALES CLOSING, PRODUCTION REPORTING, ACREAGE REPORTING
If I am unable to meet with my agent in person regarding my policies, how can I report my information by the reporting deadlines? (Sales Closing, Production Reporting, and Acreage Reporting Dates)?
You should continue to work with your agent and insurance provider.
Your insurance provider has a process to facilitate electronic communication. Your options include:
Communicate with your agent by the due date & provide signature within 60 calendar days of the due date: You can report your information over the phone, email, text, etc. to your agent.
- You must still report by your existing due date;
- You must sign your report within 60 calendar days of the due date;
- You must agree to be bound by your certifications based on the initial report; and
- Changes cannot occur after reporting, other than those authorized by policy and procedure.
Complete the Entire Process Digitally: Many insurance providers have the ability for you to submit your policy elections and digitally sign using virtual communication methods.
This also applies to the livestock products. The policyholder must continue to report by the Sales Closing Date. The relief is only for obtaining a hard copy signature when the policyholder cannot otherwise sign in person or digitally.
AIPs and agents are reminded to document reporting by electronic means as the program due dates for certifications, elections and reporting remain unchanged.
I need to do an Assignment of Indemnity. What should I do?
Contact your agent and insurance provider. An Assignment of Indemnity allows an insured to assign their right to an indemnity payment for a crop policy to a creditor(s) or other persons to whom the insured has a financial debt or other pecuniary obligation.
Both you and your creditor’s signature on the Assignment of Indemnity remain required in a pen and ink signature and in the hand of the person whose signature is required or an acceptable electronic (digital) signature. However, the witness signature requirement has been waived through December 31, 2020, for crop years 2019 through 2021. Since the witness requirement is waived, documentation for proof of debt or other pecuniary obligation will be required before an Assignment of Indemnity is accepted.
I need a written agreement for coverage and the due date is approaching for the 2021 Crop Year. What should I do?
Your crop insurance policy has an exception if you demonstrate your physical inability to submit the request on or before the sales closing date. This exception would include self-certification of COVID-19 related issues, and the physical inability to submit the request on or before the due date resulting from actions taken to limit the exposure of COVID-19.
Producers must work with their agent and insurance providers regarding written agreement request and supporting documentation.
RMA’s Regional Offices also work with the agents and insurance providers to deliver written agreements. Contact information for your local Regional Office can be found at the following website location: www.rma.usda.gov/en/RMALocal/Field-Offices/Regional-Offices
What written agreements fall into this exception?
All Written Agreement Renewals
Establish coverage on acreage not planted and harvested or insured in one of the three previous crop years that is not insurable under the terms of the policy
Nursery Plant List
Establish coverage for unlisted nursery plant materials
Unrated Insurance Option
Establish coverage for an unrated insurance option without a premium rate
Request policy changes specifically permitted by the crop policy
Request rotation exceptions in accordance with crop policy
Strip Mined Land
Establish coverage for strip-mined land where the crop has been produced less than 5 years
Seed Potato Acreage
Request to insure seed potato acreage greater than 125% specified in the crop policy
NI Corn for Grain
Establish coverage for NI corn grain where only Irr corn grain & Irr/NI Silage are available
Dry Bean Types
Establish coverage for types of dry beans not in the actuarial documents
Counties without actuarial documents for the crop
Establish coverage for a crop in a county with no actuarial documents. (request due date is cancellation date)
I was able to submit my written agreement request to my agent timely, but I’m concerned that my agent and insurance provider won’t be able to submit my request to RMA timely due to COVID-19 related issues. Will RMA still accept my written agreement request?For written agreement requests which required your submission to the agent by a deadline on or before December 31, 2020, RMA is allowing the insurance provider an additional 15 business days to submit completed written agreement requests to RMA. This gives the insurance provider a total of 30 business days after the producer deadline date. For example, for a written agreement request required to be submitted by a policyholder with a September 15, 2020, sales closing date deadline, the insurance provider would now have until October 28, 2020, to submit the completed written agreement request to RMA.
I have been notified that I have a written agreement offer to review and sign by an expiration date to accept the offer. Due to COVID-19 related issues, I cannot currently review and sign the offer and am unsure if I will be able to by the expiration date. Will I lose the ability to accept the written agreement offer?
For written agreement offers issued from RMA which have an expiration date on or before December 31, 2020, if COVID-19 related issues prevent you from signing by the expiration date, you may sign to accept the offer after the expiration date, but no later than February 1, 2021. The RMA written agreement offer issued date and expiration date is identified on the written agreement offer. If you sign after the expiration date, continue to sign in the acceptance area of the written agreement offer and provide the actual date you signed the offer.
Only signatures after the expiration date due to COVID-19 related issues are acceptable, therefore, any offers signed after the expiration date must be accompanied by your self-certification, or other documentation which you use, that the delay in signing the written agreement offer is due to COVID-19 related issues. This self-certification must include a brief explanation of the situation (such as, you were quarantined, agent offices were closed, “stay-at-home” order issued for your area, etc.) and be returned with the signed written agreement offer to the agent and insurance provider.
Is COVID-19 an insurable cause of loss under my crop insurance policy?
No. Your crop insurance policy identifies the causes of loss covered by your policy.
Also, the policy provides that failure to plant because of uninsured causes such as lack of proper equipment or labor to plant acreage, or use of a particular production method, is not considered prevented planting.
RMA continues to monitor the situation. Please remain in contact with your crop insurance agent and insurance provider. If additional assistance is needed, RMA’s Regional Offices are located throughout the US and available to assist.
What considerations have been made regarding replanting payments?
For the 2020 crop year and for the 2021 crop year through December 31, 2020, insurance providers are authorized to allow self-certification replant inspections for up to 100 gross acres (before considering share) per unit in lieu of 50 acres. All references to the 50-acre limitation as it relates to self-certification replant inspections in the 2020 Loss Adjustment Manual will be replaced with 100 acres..
In addition, insurance providers are authorized to allow policyholders that have elected Basic (BU) or Enterprise Units (EU), to apply the 100-acre limitation, and perform self-certification replant inspections up to 100 acres, for each of the underlying APH databases that would qualify as separate optional units under the BU; or separate optional or basic units under the EU.
Replant payments must be authorized by your crop provisions; and your insurance provider must provide authorization to replant. Replanted acreage must be at least the lesser of 20 acres or 20 percent of the insured planted acreage for the unit.
What crops allow for self-certification replant inspections?
The following crops allow self-certification replant inspections:
- Grain sorghum
- Sunflower seed
- Oats (spring-seeded only)
- Sugar beets
- Dry beans
- Barley and Wheat not covered by the Winter Coverage Endorsement (both initially planted winter and spring crops)
- Flax (spring-seeded only)
What relief will RMA offer specific to organic policyholders?For the 2020 and 2022 crop years, insurance providers may allow a policyholder to report acreage as certified organic, or as acreage in transition to organic, when the policyholder can document they have requested, in writing, a written certification or other written documentation from a certifying agent by the acreage reporting date. Policyholders must continue to use generally recognized organic practices in accordance with their policy.
What if my organic plan or certificate is not in effect (approved by the certifying agent) by the acreage reporting date?
The policy requires you to have an organic plan or certificate in effect by the acreage reporting date. Due to COVID-19, this may not be possible. Therefore, your insurance provider may allow you to report acreage as certified organic, or as acreage in transition to organic, when you can document you have requested, in writing, a written certification or other written documentation from a certifying agent by the acreage reporting date. This provides relief from the existing policy requiring the plan or certificate to be in effect.
Currently, policyholders must request an organic plan or certificate from a certifying agent no later than the policy’s acreage reporting date. It is important for to keep documentation for this request.
What if my organic plan or certificate is NOT approved?If your organic plan or certificate is NOT approved, you must notify your agent by phone, email, text, or other electronic communication method, within 30 days from the date of notification. Your acreage report and premium may be revised by your insurance provider when such notice is timely to receive premium changes due to changes in your cropping practice (e.g. acreage in transition to organic may be reported as conventional).
What if I have a loss for the 2020, 2021, or 2022 crop year?
If you have a loss, your insurance provider will continue to verify your organic plan or certificate is in effect as required by the policy for organic coverage.
If your organic plan or certificate is not in effect or if you did not follow generally recognized organic practices, your coverage would not reflect an organic practice.
Does COVID-19 Relief for Organic Plans and Certificates Due at Acreage Reporting (MGR 20-013) apply to Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) Policies?Yes. MGR 20-013 and MGR 20-026 apply to WFRP policies effective for the 2020 and 2022 policy years.
What if a WFRP insured does not provide a valid organic certificate at claim time?According to the WFRP Handbook, if the insured does not provide a valid organic certificate at claim time the insured revenue will be recalculated using non-organic prices.
LIVESTOCK GROSS MARGIN
How does the 75% marketing requirement apply under the Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) policy and can a producer submit records from months in the insurance period that did not have target marketings insured?The LGM policy will look at the 11-month insurance period (6 months for swine) to determine if the reduction needs to be applied. For example, if a swine producer picks the March-August insurance period with target marketings in April and May only, as long as the producer can show their actual marketings for the insurance period (March-August) is above the 75% requirement then the reduction will not apply. If the producer can’t market the hogs within the 6-month insurance period (March-August) then the reduction will apply. Insureds will need to provide records when requested by the AIP; however, the insured will be able to provide additional records until the end of the insurance period that supports the actual marketings for the insurance period. AIPs will pay indemnities once they determine that the 75% marketing requirement is met.
NURSERY & NURSERY VALUE SELECT
The sales closing date for the Nursery Crop Provisions and Nursery Value Select Crop Provisions is May 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020, for the 2021 crop year respectively. Is there any consideration for extending the deadlines to submit the required documentation?
The sales closing dates remain as May 1 and September 1. However, policyholders may provide information over the phone, with appropriate documentation of the call or using electronic methods to select options, select endorsements, and report other information required in the Plant Inventory Value Report or Nursery Value Report, as applicable, occurring for the sales closing date (SCD) deadline. If the policyholder sends their elections in such a manner, they will be required to either sign digitally at the time of submission or must follow up with a properly signed form(s) no later than July 15, 2020, for the May 1 SCD or within 60 days of the September 1 SCD. The policyholder agrees to be bound by their certifications based on their initial certification and cannot make changes after the sales closing date other than those authorized by RMA procedure for insurance providers.
Under both nursery programs, policyholders are required to submit nursery catalogs as a requirement for eligibility. If policyholders with a May 1 SCD have hard copy versions of their catalogs and they follow up with a properly signed form no later than July 15, 2020, they may provide the catalogs at the same time. If policyholders with a September 1 SCD, have hard copy versions of their catalogs and they follow up with a properly signed form no later than 60 days after the SCD, they may provide catalogs at the same time.
In some situations, I know that on-site inspections are required for my nursery operation to be insured. Given the current circumstances, will my insurance provider have to come to my property to conduct an inspection?If, according to procedures, an inspection is due for the 2021 crop year, RMA is authorizing insurance providers to defer the 2021 crop year inspection until the subsequent crop year for the Nursery and NVS programs when an inspection report exists in the policyholder’s file for the Nursery Crop Provisions for the 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020 crop year(s).
If I transfer my nursery policy from one insurance provider to another for the 2021 crop year, is the assuming insurance provider responsible for inspecting my nursery?The Nursery and NVS Insurance Standards Handbooks require an inspection to be conducted when a policy is transferred from one insurance provider to another. However, if your policy file contains an inspection report for the 2017, 2018, 2019, or 2020 crop year(s), then the insurance provider does not have to perform an inspection prior to the 2021 crop year. The insurance provider must inspect your nursery for the 2022 crop year.
I had nursery insurance for the 2017 and 2018 crop years. I did not carry insurance for the 2019 or 2020 crop year. I would like to purchase insurance for the 2021 crop year. My insurance provider inspected my nursery prior to the 2018 crop year. Is my insurance provider responsible for inspecting my nursery for the 2021 crop year?If your insurance provider has an inspection report in your file from one of the previous four crop years, then the insurance provider does not have to perform an inspection prior to the 2021 crop year. If an inspection had been required for the 2021 crop year and it was deferred, then the insurance provider must inspect your nursery for the 2022 crop year.
PERENNIAL CROP PRE-ACCEPTANCE WORKSHEET AND PRE-ACCEPTANCE INSPECTION REPORT
The Producer’s Pre-Acceptance Worksheet (PAW) deadlines are coming due, will an extension be provided?PAW deadlines remain the same. However, policyholders may provide information over the phone with appropriate documentation of the call or using electronic methods to select options and endorsements occurring for the sales closing, acreage reporting, and production reporting deadlines. If the policyholder sends their elections in such a manner, they will be required to either sign digitally at the time of submission or must follow up with a properly signed form(s) no later than 60 days from the applicable policy due date. The policyholder agrees to be bound by their initial certification and cannot make changes after the applicable deadline other than those authorized by RMA procedure.
Given the current circumstances, will my insurance provider have to come to my property to conduct a Perennial Crop Pre-Acceptance Inspection Report (PAIR)?
Under some circumstances your insurance provider will come to your farm to inspect bush/tree/vine planting, e.g., if your planting was damaged last year, if you are adding new acreage to you operation or if you have applied for a new policy in the county.
If you have questions or concerns regarding relief, please contact your local Regional Office. Contact information is provided on the following website location: www.rma.usda.gov/RMALocal/Field-Offices/Regional-Offices.
Given the social distancing orders, do I need to be with my insurance provider when a PAIR is performed?No, you are not required to be present during PAIR. Your insurance provider can call or email you with questions or with requests for documentation.
How is dumped milk handled at loss time?Dumped milk will be handled the same as if the milk had been marketed. Policyholders will still need to provide supporting documentation to their insurance provider from their cooperative or milk handler verifying the actual pounds dumped.
While the production rule must be met under the DRP and LGM-Dairy policy regardless of dairy producers being forced to dump milk, will the insurance provider expect the actual milk production figure to include or exclude the dumped milk production?This will vary depending on the milk processing plant, or milk handler records. Some will have a line item showing what the total dumped milk production was for the time, and others might provide a supplemental document of the dumped milk, either will be acceptable.
Does milk that is dumped have to be sold to qualify as production?No, as long as the policyholder obtains documentation from the milk processing plant or milk handler verifying the amount of milk that was produced, it will count as production.
Will allowing dumped milk change my indemnity amount?No, with the allowance provided in MGR-20-010, dumped milk will not change how the DRP or LGM-Dairy calculates your indemnity. You would be paid the same regardless if the milk was sold or dumped. This will not change how the DRP or LGM-Dairy calculates the total amount of indemnity the policyholder is eligible for. Rather, this avoids a reduction in indemnity that is intended for policyholders who bought insurance in excess of their expected production.
What happens if the milk that was dumped wasn't tested under the DRP program?
If the milk is under the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO), there are guidelines on how to handle missed testing for component levels. If the milk is not part of an FMMO, the insurance provider may use the average butterfat and protein levels for dumped milk not tested.
DEADLINE FOR OPTIONS, ELECTIONS, AND ENDORSEMENTS FOR COMMON CROP INSURANCE POLICIES
What is the deadline for me to elect options, elections or endorsements for my Common Crop Insurance Policy?
Election dates will vary by crop and by the type of option, election or endorsement. See the table below for applicable reference dates.
Elected by Sales Closing Date
BU by Non-Continuous Land
Certified Seed High
Certified Seed Low
Comprehensive Tree Value
Contract Price Addendum
Coverage Enhancement Option
Coverage Level by Irrigation Practice
Crop Replacement Endorsement - Option A
Crop Replacement Endorsement - Option B
Downed Rice Endorsement
Fire Blight and CV
Fire Blight and OLO
Fire Blight, CV and OLO
Fresh Fruit Quality Adjustment Option
High-Risk Alt Cov Endorsement
High-Risk Land Exclusion
Hybrid Seed Price Endorsement
Malting Barley Endorsement
Minimum Value Option
Minimum Value Option I
Minimum Value Option II
OLO Base Policy
OLO CTV Endorsement
Pear Quality Adjustment
Prevented Planting +5%
Price Endorsement Option
Quality Option #1
Quality Option #2
Revenue Cup 90%
Supplemental Coverage Option Endorsement
Elected by Acreage Reporting Date
2 Year Crop Rotation
With Frost Protection
Without Weed Control
Yield Adjustment 60%
Hail & Fire Exclusion
Short Rate Adjustment