Above is a photo I took of some cropland east of Dickinson, N.D., that wasn’t planted on July 2, 2014. It was a prevented-plant (PP) crop insurance situation because of some very wet planting season weather.
Of all of the input I receive from readers, PP is the tops. Several times a year I will get a phone call or e-mail from some farmer, wanting to know who to contact about the neighbor who outbids younger farmers for land rent and then has land that goes unplanted while neighbors seem to get their work done.
In one case, a south-central North Dakota farmer was talking about the farmer who had eight quarters unplanted — about 1,200 acres. The
Another story was about the fellow who failed to plant canola by the planting date, collected the 35 percent PP insurance, and then went ahead and planted the crop the neighbors allege they intended to plant all along. There was the insurance agent that told me that this kind of thing isn’t as lucrative as people say it is, that the PP benefits are declining. But there’s something pervasive going on when an extension official declined to comment about PP at all, saying it is so rife with potential abuse.
Me? I think a big problem with the PP is that it is enormously difficult to enforce this kind of program across all of the variability of the American cropping picture. I think the prairie pothole region of the Dakotas are more difficult to keep it all straight. I think part of the problem is how the crop insurance companies and their adjusters view the system.
Regardless of the fraud potential, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is looking at some changes in the program. In the March 2 issue of Agweek magazine look for a brief summary of some of the proposed changes a consultant, Agralytica of Alexandria, Va., has suggested to the USDA’s Risk Management Agency for formula changes that could affect such crops as corn, potatoes and green peas in our region. RMA officials say these ideas are more in the trial balloon stage — not yet to the point of proposed rules. But I’m thinking those steps aren’t far behind.
If you wish to offer input on this, I’m all ears — fingerprints or not. My phone number — 701-297-6869 — is published in Agweek every week.