In response to the drought conditions that plagued the State of Alabama this past summer, the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) has recently expanded a pilot insurance program to cover hay and grazing land in the state for the 2008 crop year.

This program, called the Pasture, Rangeland and Forage (PRF) — Rainfall Index Plan of Insurance, is a simple ‘Group Risk’ type of program. The insurance policy covers deviation from normal rainfall over a 12-mile square area using data supplied by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).

Farmers have a choice of six two-month intervals to insure at pasture and hay values established by RMA. These products were designed to allow maximum flexibility for the producer.

Producers are not required to insure all acres, but cannot exceed the total number of grazing or haying acres they operate. This allows a producer to insure only those acres that are important to his or her grazing program or hay operation.

By selecting a Productivity Factor, a producer can establish a value between 60 and 150 percent of the County Base Value and match the amount of protection to the value of forage that best represents the specific grazing or hay operation, as well as the productive capacity of the land.

The insurance policy must be purchased by Nov. 30, 2007 for the 2008 crop year.

Several meetings on this program have been scheduled. Listed are a few that are already finalized. All meetings are planned to start at 6:00 p.m. except where noted:

• Nov. 1: Ashland — Clay County Livestock.

• Nov. 5: Petersville — Community Center *6:30 p.m.

• Nov. 6: Camden — Lower Coastal Exp Station.

• Nov. 8: Opp — Farmers Livestock Market *6:30 p.m.

• Nov. 12: Montgomery — Alabama Cattleman's Building.

• Nov. 13: Mobile — John Archer Agricultural Center.

• Nov. 14: Hanceville — Wallace Community College Bailey Center.

• Nov. 15: Headland — Research Station.

• Nov. 19: Russellville — Northwest Alabama Livestock.

Any changes to the schedule will be posted on the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries website, agi.alabama.gov. For more information on this new program or the meetings, contact Mike Shewbart with Department of Agriculture & Industries at 1-256-246-1543.

For additional information, farmers may contact their local crop insurance agent or visit the RMA website at: www.rma.usda.gov. A list of local crop insurance agents is available at County FSA Offices, or on the RMA Web site.