Agriculture is an inherently risky business. Some risks are everyday business risks; some risks are brought on by natural disasters. Producers need to regularly manage for financial, marketing, production, human resource, and legal risks.
USDA offers tools to assist producers as they meet these planning needs, including access to risk-management tools, such as crop insurance, or information regarding markets and risk, technical assistance coping with common risks, protection from the spread of animal and plant diseases and pests, and, when applicable, assistance recovering from natural disasters.
Through the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, USDA provides crop insurance to American farmers and ranchers to help them manage risks on their farms and ranches. There are many types of insurance products available for a wide variety of production practices, including organic and sustainable agriculture.
For more information, please visit USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) Web site.
To locate a crop insurance agent near you, please visit RMA's Agent Locator.
The farm bill also made crop insurance more affordable for beginning farmers and ranchers.
For purposes of crop insurance, who is considered a “Beginning Farmer or Rancher?” What kinds of benefits could I receive as a Beginning Farmer or Rancher?
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP)
What is NAP?
NAP provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops to protect against natural disasters that result in lower yields or crop losses, or prevent crop planting.
How do I apply for a NAP service-fee waiver or premium reduction as a beginning farmer?
Beginning farmers must complete Form CCC-860, Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource and Beginning Farmer or Rancher Certification, when they apply for NAP coverage. Further information is available from your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office or on FSA's website.
USDA's FSA can provide assistance managing the market risks that you as a farmer or rancher face, including price loss and disparities faced by geographically-disadvantaged producers.
In many circumstances, USDA's FSA and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can provide assistance for losses resulting from natural disasters such as drought, flood, fire, freeze, tornadoes, pest infestation, and other calamities. If you have experienced losses, you may be eligible to receive assistance from these programs:
- The Livestock Forage Disaster Program and the Livestock Indemnity Program provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses.
- The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees, and farm-raised fish who have suffered losses due to disease, severe weather, blizzards, and wildfires.
- The Tree Assistance Program provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes, and vines damaged by natural disasters.
- The Emergency Forest Restoration Program authorizes payments to owners of nonindustrial private forests to restore disaster-damaged forests.
FSA also provides loans to restore or replace essential property damaged in disaster, finance production losses to crops and livestock, fund essential family living and farm operating expenses, or refinance certain debts.
Make sure you keep good records when disasters strike.
Disaster Set-Aside can provide relief for producers who have direct FSA loans and are unable to make the scheduled payment by moving one full year's payment to the end of the loan.
USDA's new Dairy Margin Protection Program is now available. Farmers were eligible to enroll for 2014 and 2015 between September 2 and November 28, 2014. The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin—the difference between the price of milk and feed costs—falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer. The program gives participating dairy producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best suited for their operation. Participating farmers must remain in the program through 2018. USDA also launched a new web tool, available at www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool, which allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections.
Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC)
ARC and PLC offer financial assistance to producers of major row crops when either commodity prices or revenues are below certain levels. ARC and PLC are available for the following covered commodities: wheat, oats, barley, corn, grain sorghum, rice, soybeans, sunflower seed, grape seed, canola, safflower, flaxseed, mustard seed, cranberry and sesame seed, dry peas, lentils, small chickpeas, large chickpeas, and peanuts.
Ag Risk and Farm Management Library
USDA funds the web-based Ag Risk and Farm Management Library which organizes thousands of materials so agricultural producers and professionals can quickly find information on risk management, marketing, financial management, and more.
USDA provides funds to the regional Extension risk-management education centers that provide risk education and tools tailored for different regions of the country and types of farming operations. In addition, USDA’s Risk Management Agency offers two partnership opportunities each year to organizations working with producers to provide crop insurance education and risk-management training. The Crop Insurance in Targeted States Program provides funding for the development of crop insurance education programs in 16 states targeting underserved producers. Funding is also available from the Risk Management Education Partnerships Program, which provides funding for the development of general nationwide crop insurance education as well as other risk-management training programs. Special emphasis is given to Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, and Minority Farmers and Ranchers. For more information on how organizations can partner with the Risk Management Agency, please visit our Partnership and Cooperative Agreements page.
USDA works in a variety of ways to protect and improve the health, quality, and marketability of our nation's animals (including various wildlife), animal products, and veterinary biologics.
USDA vigilantly protects agriculture and the environment against pest and disease threats. The stakes are high and the responsibility to know the right things to do to help take care of all the great natural and agricultural resources that we have are enormous.
- Learn to identify the invasive species in your area.
- Report any sightings to your county Extension agent or local USDA office. The sooner invasive species are detected, the easier and less expensive it is to control them.
- Clean your boots, gear, truck bed, tires, and harvesting equipment after working a site to make sure you are not spreading seeds, insects, or spores to a new location.
- Be sure to control invasive plants along fencerows, ditches, and other areas adjacent to fields.
- Always use weed-free hay and feed for your animals.
Conflicts with Wildlife
USDA's Wildlife Services are on hand to answer your questions about how to deal with problematic wildlife on your farm or ranch. An office near you can be reached at www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/index.shtml or by dialing toll free 1-866-4USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297).