Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

November 16, 2013

Fruit crop insurance deadline approaching

TRAVERSE CITY — Fruit growers take notice: the deadline for applying for crop insurance is upon you.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency said Nov. 20 is the deadline for fruit growers to buy a new crop insurance policy or for making changes to an existing policy. The date applies to farmers growing apples, peaches, blueberries, grapes and cherries.

“This has been a traditional fruit deadline for years,” said Ben LaCross, who represents the Michigan Farm Bureau in the Grand Traverse region. “It’s been a successful program for farmers to look into. It’s a high initial cash outlay, but with the weather and potential for disasters, it’s a great risk management tool for us.”

LaCross also is a cherry grower.

Insurance for apples is available in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and multiple other counties throughout the state. Cherry insurance is available in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, and Leelanau counties.

The federal government expanded crop insurance programs for cherry growers this year. Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced the availability of new crop insurance for tart cherry growers in August.

The program expansion is significant considering the events of 2012, when weather destroyed 97 percent of Michigan’s cherry crop, making it arguably the worst year on record for cherry growing.

Brian Frieden of the USDA’s Risk Management Agency said fruit producers should contact a crop insurance agent for details. Agents can help new producers determine which policy works best for their operation and review existing coverage to ensure the policy meets their needs.

Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers or on the Risk Management Agency’s website at http://www.rma.usda.gov/tools/agents/.

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