A new USDA risk management tool called Whole-farm Revenue Protection targets fruit and vegetable growers with flexible coverage options for specialty crop, organic and diversified crop producers.

The pilot program will be offered in counties across the country and will expand over the next few years.

Under the program, farmers can insure all crops on their farm at once, rather than insuring commodity by commodity. Many fruit and vegetable crops have not had crop insurance programs designed for them. This allows farmers greater flexibility to make planting decisions on their land.

"Crop insurance has been the linchpin of the farm safety net for years and continues to grow as the single most important factor in protecting producers of all sizes from the effects of unpredictable weather," said Vilsack. "Providing farmers the option to insure their whole farm at once gives farmers more flexibility, promotes crop diversity, and helps support the production of healthy fruits and vegetables. More flexibility also empowers farmers and ranchers to make a broader range of decisions with their land, helping them succeed and strengthening our agriculture economy."

The 2014 farm bill requires a whole-farm crop insurance option, and paves the way for the Risk Management Agency to make it broadly available. The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board of Directors approved the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection pilot policy for RMA to offer it through the federal crop insurance program in 2015.

The policy offers coverage levels from 50 to 85 percent; recognizes farm diversification through qualification for the highest coverage levels along with premium rate discounts for multiple crop diversifications. The Market Readiness Feature, as outlined in the farm bill, simplifies insurance coverage for producers under the program by allowing the costs such as washing, trimming, and packaging to be left in the insured revenue instead of having to adjust those amounts out of the insured amount.

The Whole-Farm Revenue Protection policy combines Adjusted Gross Revenue nd AGR-Lite along with several improvements to target diversified farms and farms selling two to five commodities, including specialty crops to wholesale markets. The new policy is also designed to meet the risk management needs of diversified crop or livestock producers including those growing specialty crops and/or selling to local and regional markets, farm identity preserved markets, or direct markets.

As part of the pilot, the program will be available where AGR and AGR-Lite are currently offered, and will expand to other counties as data are available for underwriting and actuarial ratemaking. RMA will release information on the policy later this summer when it becomes available.