RMA announces pilot crop insurance program for camelina

By Erin Voegele | December 06, 2011

The USDA’s Risk Management Agency has developed a pilot program to insure camelina. The program, which will be available in selected counties in Montana and North Dakota for the 2012 crop year, will have a sales closing date of Feb. 1, 2012.

The camelina plan of insurance is Actual Production History, which insures a grower’s yield. Only spring-planted camelina grown under contract with a processor will be eligible for coverage. According to the RMA, to be eligible, the contract must state the producer’s commitment to plant and grow camelina and deliver the production to the processor, the processor’s commitment to purchase all production stated in the processor contract, and a base contract price not to exceed an amount specified in the Special Provisions of the program. A single basic unit will be offered, and multiple basic units or optional units are not available.

Insurable causes of loss will include adverse weather, fire, wildlife, earthquake, volcanic eruption, and insect and plant diesel. Damage due to insufficient or improper application of pest or diesel control measures will not be insured. In addition, neither written agreements nor prevented planting will be available for camelina. According to the RMA, coverage levels offered will be from the catastrophic level to 65 percent.

“The Obama Administration is committed to building new income opportunities for America's farmers and ranchers, and by producing biofuels from a wide range of agricultural products, we can help promote economic opportunity in rural America,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This pilot program will help our farmers produce biomass, which will be converted to renewable fuel and increase America's energy independence, creating jobs and stimulating rural economies across the nation.”

The pilot program for camelina was developed through the 508(h) process and submitted by Great Plains Oil and Exploration LLC—The Camelina Co. and Crop Insurance Systems Inc. According to Monica Prather, Great Plains Oil and Exploration’s marketing director, her company has been working on the petition since 2007. With the program now in place, growers in select areas of North Dakota and Montana will be able to grow the crop without worrying about a lack of insurance crop, which should increase the number of farmers willing to give it a try.

“We’ve been working on camelina for about 10 years now, working with the crop to try to get the most yield and best seed possible,” Prather said. “We contract with growers and they buy our seeds and grow the product. We purchase it back from them and turn it into the oil and meal.” The oil portion of the crop is used for biodiesel production.

“Getting crop insurance is a big draw in getting some of the growers to sign up,” Prather added. “Whenever you have a new crop, [farmers] are wary of it.” The new program, she said, will make growers more willing to grow camelina. “It gives us a much wider base of growers to be able to grow our new product.” 


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