Virtual Listening Sessions: Feasibility of Insuring Local Food Production

Farms raising 40+ varieties of crops, like Sola Gratia in Urbana, IL, are not immune to the extreme weather events that plague farmers of all types across Illinois. Over the past ten months, Sola Gratia experienced everything from multiple early and late-season freeze events, flash floods, hail storms, and the recent derecho that blew 80 mph winds across much of the midwest. Extreme events like this can cause severe damage and, for Sola Gratia, a single hailstorm resulted in the loss of 70% of their vegetables that should have gone to their CSA, markets, and aid recipients. 

Unlike many farms that raise commodity-based products, diversified operations like Sola Gratia do not have access to federal crop insurance programs meant to mitigate the losses accrued by extreme weather.  Crop insurance programs offered by the USDA are currently not designed to accommodate small, diversified operations. Additionally, these programs have historically not offered education to farmers selling into local markets on how to apply for insurance. 

Fortunately, though, some changes are on the horizon. As part of the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress required the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) to solicit feedback about improved crop insurance coverage options for farmers and ranchers selling through local food markets. This includes discussing how existing crop insurance programs can be improved, as well as exploring the possibility of a new crop insurance program. 

The RMA is now in the process of hosting these listening sessions and there are several scheduled, which will be held from mid-August through early September. The sessions for farmers and ranchers are divided by region, commodity, and market channel. Additionally, there will be sessions specifically for approved insurance providers. 

Are you a farmer, rancher, or urban farm in Illinois selling products to the local food market? If so, we encourage you to attend one of following the listening sessions specifically for Illinois farmers: 

Illinois Listening Session Dates

  • Producers: August 25th at 12 pm central
  • Livestock (producers/agents/other): August 27th at 12 pm central
  • Insurance (AIPs/Adjusters/Agents): August 27th at 2 pm central
  • Urban Farms (producers/agents/other): August 28th at 12 pm central

Zoom information:
Link:https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87372872344?pwd=ZEZza2RBS3M0Zm9VeloxSXZXUHczdz09
Passcode: local
Meeting ID: 873 7287 2344
Telephone participants: You can mute and unmute yourself by typing “*6” (star, followed by the number 6).

One tap mobile
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 873 7287 2344
Passcode: 746512

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kclzmxreEX

Contact information

Please contact Andre Williamson, President of Agralytica, with any questions regarding the content of this invitation or to provide additional feedback regarding the feasibility of insurance coverage for local food producers. 

Mobile Number: 240-432-0308 OR email: awilliamson@agralytica.com. If you email, please include “Local foods insurance” as your subject line.

We will accept comments by phone or email until September 10. RMA will use the information collected by Agralytica to help determine ways to better insure growers supplying local markets. Please join one of these sessions so that your feedback can be heard.