Title 11 Recommendations

The following are recommendations that can prioritize sustainable fiber-rich foods in farm policy.

  1. Add fiber-rich food crops to eligible crop insurance list.
  2. Encourage crop diversity by incentivizing the Whole Farm Revenue Protection program.

Over the past decades, efforts have been made to expand federal crop insurance. Measures such as the Federal Crop Insurance Reform and Department of Agriculture Reauthorization Act of 1994 and the Whole Farm Revenue Protection program in 2014 have made crop insurance more accessible for a growing number of specialty crops. However, more work needs to be done to expand the list of eligible specialty crops, so that every specialty crop is covered. 

“Crops without insurance for which the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reports planted acreage include artichokes, asparagus, blackberries, boysenberries, broccoli, cantaloupes, carrots (fresh and for processing), cauliflower, celery, dates, garlic, guavas, hazelnuts, honeydews, kiwi fruit, lettuce, spinach, squash, tart cherries, and watermelons. In addition, specialty crops for which NASS does not report planted acreage that do not have crop-specific policies include cashews, chives, dates, eggplants, garlic, hazelnuts, leeks, lettuce, melons, most leafy greens, most herbs and spices, some tropical plants, and most root crops.”

Congressional Research Service (2019), “Federal Crop Insurance: Specialty Crops”

Whole Farm Revenue Protection

Monocultures drive up FCIP (Federal Crop Insurance Program) costs by driving down crop prices. When prices decline, FCIP payments rise and with so many acres devoted to corn and soybeans there is a risk of oversupply, which would then suppress prices and trigger payments, leading the FCIP to pay out nearly 6.5 billion in indemnities over the past decade.1 A solution to address this issue is to encourage crop diversity through programs such as the Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) program.

2018 WFRP Policy Total Commodity Counts
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Whole Farm Revenue Protection Program: 2017 – 2018 Trends 2

The USDA and Congress can encourage crop diversity by incentivizing the WFRP program. Incentivizing the WFRP program (introduced with the 2014 Farm Bill) could encourage farmers to diversify their crops. As of right now, only 2 percent of farmers are enrolled in this program and many insurance agents do not understand it or promote it. 3

The Risk Management Association (RMA) can improve access to WFRP for diversified producers by encouraging agents to offer this option to producers. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition notes that although it is a requirement to offer this policy, producers have reported that agents have refused to offer it or actively discouraged it. The RMA can put more resources into training agents on how to improve producer enrollment in WFRP, while also, “simplifying recordkeeping by allowing National Organic Program Organic Systems Plans to be used to report yields, sales, and expenses; eliminating expense report requirements; and focusing recordkeeping on major crops that contribute greater than 10 percent of a producer’s  total sales would also lower the barrier of entry for diversified producers.”4

  1. Federal Crop Insurance: Specialty Crops (NRDC) https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/federal-crop-insurance-program-reforms-ip.pdf
  2. Whole Farm Revenue Protect Program 2017-2018 Trends https://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/whole-farm-revenue-protection-program-2017-2018/
  3. Federal Crop Insurance: Specialty Crops (NRDC) https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/federal-crop-insurance-program-reforms-ip.pdf
  4. Whole Farm Revenue Protection Program Updates https://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/rma-releases-updates-to-the-whole-farm-revenue-protection-program/