The USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) has made changes to the pecan crop insurance program beginning in 2014.

Jeanne Lindsey with the USDA-RMA Valdosta office reviewed the changes during the Georgia Pecan Growers Association Annual Meeting in Perry.

Changes to the Pecan Revenue Crop Provisions include: allowing growers to insure orchards on non-contiguous land as optional units; replacing the minimum age requirement used to determine an orchard's insurability with a minimum production requirement; changing the maximum base period for calculating the Approved Average Revenue from 10 to six years and removing the penalty for sequentially thinning orchards.

"If you have one orchard in one part of the county and another orchard in another part separated by land you do not own or rent, you may have those as two separate units whereas before you had to combine them," Lindsey said.

To insure non-contiguous orchards as optional units, producers must have separate production records for the orchards for at least the prior two years, Lindsey said.

Many producers started keeping separate production records on non-contiguous orchards last year in anticipation that the RMA would make this change, she said. 

Lindsey added that all crop insurance programs have an increased premium, which is usually 10 percent, for optional units. 

Another change is orchards must no longer be 12 years old to be insurable. The new provision allows orchards to be insured once there is a minimum of 600 pounds production per acre in one of the previous four years.

"This will be a benefit for young orchards or high density orchards that reach 600 pounds an acre prior to 12 years and will curb some abuse we've seen in the program where you've had very old orchards that didn't produce anything insured," Lindsey said.

The base period of years previously used to calculate the Approved Average Revenue is decreasing from a maximum of 10 to six years. 

"Your data base next year will include at the most 2008 through 2013 production history," Lindsey explained.

Policyholders beginning a two-year coverage cycle in 2013 should note the changes modify the two-year coverage module to allow the 2013-year to be treated as a one-year policy.

This will allow all producers to begin a new two-year coverage module for the 2014 crop year under the new terms of the revised insurance program.

All policies will automatically renew for the 2014 crop year unless the policyholder provides written notification that they want to cancel coverage by the Jan. 31, 2014, cancellation date.

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