Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson has announced that Florida has been approved to have Adjusted Gross Revenue — Lite (whole farm) crop insurance made available beginning in the 2008 Crop year.

USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), Deputy Administrator Tim Witts, confirmed approval of RMA’s expansion of AGR-Lite coverage for Florida.

In 2005, with the objective of helping small farms mitigate risk, Bronson’s department began the application process to be eligible to have Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) Lite coverage made available to Florida producers. This “whole farm revenue” coverage was pioneered by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in 2003, specifically to respond to the needs of small farms. AGR-Lite is very different from traditional crop insurance programs where a farmer buys coverage for each crop. Here, one plan covers the whole farm. This coverage is administered and subsidized by USDA-RMA. In order for Florida to be eligible for coverage, Bronson’s agency conducted regional meetings and risk assessment of all Florida crops and agricultural production.

The commissioner emphasized that managing risk in agriculture is the key to profitability and essential for survival. Florida producers know it is critical to address factors such as price and yield fluctuation due to market forces and weather variations. Agricultural producers have always been resilient, but the hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 put this resiliency to the test with losses exceeding $4 billion.

“We are very pleased to have a new form of crop insurance which can help mitigate loss for smaller farms throughout Florida,” Bronson said.

AGR-Lite provides protections against low revenue due to unavoidable natural disasters and market fluctuations that affect income during the insurance year. Most farm-raised crops, animals, and animal products are eligible for coverage. Bronson said that sound risk management solutions involving credit, marketing, and operations must be readily available to preserve and strengthen the economic stability of Florida producers to stay in business. AGR-Lite is one more risk management option now available to Florida farmers.

Producers interested in AGR-Lite should contact an insurance agent who sells crop insurance.

RMA publishes a list of agents on its Web site at: http://www.rma.usda.gov/tools/agent.html. AGR-Lite policy materials may also be accessed on the RMA Web site on the crop policy page.