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Lana Cusick, 202-720-3325


GERMANTOWN, NY, Mar 22, 2011 - When Larry Diehl and his brothers purchased their Hudson Valley farm in 1970, they were one of more than 20 commercial vineyards in their area. Now, he says, they are one of three grape growers in Columbia County.

PHOTO: Larry Diehl
Columbia County grape grower
Larry Diehl

Because grape coverage had not been offered to Columbia County growers in the past, the farm had carried coverage under the non-insured crop disaster assistance program (NAP), and had received disaster payments in the past. In fall of 2008, Diehl attended an educational meeting about crop insurance at the county Cooperative Extension office, presented by educators from the Crop Insurance Education Program at the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. There, Diehl learned that he could apply for a written agreement, or a variance to obtain a grape policy in Columbia County.

Diehl's special written agreement application for the 2009 crop year was granted, and in his first year of coverage, his grape crop sustained a 100-percent loss due to a May frost. The farm received the indemnity check right away, just when it was needed to pay for vineyard maintenance, including the labor and supplies that are required even in the absence of a crop.

"The benefit of having crop insurance was that we had a substantial check that came in to help offset all the expenses," said Diehl. "It was a good source of income where we wouldn't have had anything."

Diehl summarizes his first year with crop insurance as a positive experience. "The check was on time, [and] it came in at the time of year you need it," he said. "The premium was a decent rate; in fact, it was even a little less than the NAP [premium]."

Diehl says that he urges other grape growers to learn more about insurance as a tool to help protect their farms from the risk of crop loss.

"It just gives you peace of mind that you know you're going to have money coming in to take care of some of your expenses," said Diehl, adding that it provides "something to fall back on if you get a partial crop loss during the year. If we hadn't had crop insurance, all that expense would've come out of our savings and eventually, if you have too many of these crop losses like we've had, you're going to deplete your savings and next thing, the farm is for sale."

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has partnered with USDA's Risk Management Agency to provide crop insurance education to New York State farmers. For more information, please visit the NYS Crop Insurance Education website at or contact Sarah Johnston at 518-457-4531 or 800-554-4501. To find a crop insurance agent, please contact your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office or use RMA's crop insurance agent locator tool.